MARLBOROUGH, Mass. — Nick George’s second goal of the game proved decisive, lifting the Boston Junior Eagles to a 6-1 win over the Boston Junior Huskies in the USA Hockey Massachusetts District Youth Tier II 14U Tournament final.
The Eagles, 5-0-0, secured their trip to the 2020 Chipotle-USA Hockey Youth Tier II National Championships, beginning April 2 in Kalamazoo, Michigan, with a three-goal outburst in the final stanza. The Huskies finished at 4-1-0.
The Eagles, skating shorthanded, opened the scoring midway through the first when George tapped home a rebound off a skate, beating Huskies goalie Brandon Silva. The Huskies responded at the outset of the middle period, getting the game-tying marker from Carter Delleo’s snapshot from between the circles.
The game-winner arrived 2:40 later when George broke in on Silva following a defensive miscue, scoring glove side. Defenseman Marcus Stamatos pushed the score to 3-1 late in the period with an assist from Connor Fryberger.
“We hoped to get on the board first and see what we could pull off, get them back on their heels a little,” said Huskies head coach Charles Beshwaty of his team’s early lead. “It didn’t work in the end, they were the better team tonight. Once they went up 2-1, we had several chances to get back in but we missed on all of them [which] I believe hurt our morale going forward.”
The Huskies, led by Emmet Teahan (five goals, three assists) and Liam Hager (five goals, one assist) outscored their opponents 17-6 through their first three games of the tournament.
“Without question I’m super proud of these guys,” Beshwaty said. “It’s a new team, and mostly they haven’t played together before. They gave all they could. We played a team tonight that has been together for years now, and they’re loaded with talent.
“Our roster top to bottom, we don’t have any standouts, but we enjoy rolling three lines,” said Eagles head coach Dates Fryberger following the win. “We have speed and we use that [to our advantage]. We have a few boys with exceptional speed and we used that tonight.”
The Eagles placed four scorers among the top ten with Sean Leetch leading them all with nine points on six goals and three assists while Lindan Verville (one goal, seven assists) and Cole Matlack (three goals, three assists) followed close behind. Goaltenders Henry Hasselbeck and Nik Barnes combined for a 1.80 goals against average in tournament action.
“Keeping our kids focused was important tonight,” said Coach Fryberger of the Eagles third period lead. “We have a tendency of sometimes taking our foot off the pedal, but tonight our message was avoiding that.”
Leetch’s goal late in the third, sandwiched between a pair of markers by Eli Deener-Chodirker, bumped the score to 5-1.
“Eli was outstanding tonight, he’s a great and consistent contributor for us throughout the season,” said Fryberger, who cited Leech’s keen on-ice sense. “He settles the game down, he’s one of those kids that knows the nuances of the game. He’s on a good trajectory right now.”
The Eagles snapped a 4-4 deadlock with a pair of third-period goals by Mark Herlihy and Verville in a tense semifinal showdown with the South Shore Kings (1-3-0) to advance while the Huskies needed a crucial goal by Liam Hager with 3:56 remaining in the third to turn aside the Bay State Breakers (1-3-0).
“Our guys are grinders,” said Beshwaty, regarding his club’s makeup coming into the tournament. “We don’t have a lot of up and down speedsters, and great shooters like the Eagles have; we’re just hard-nosed and getting here was a big deal.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.