BUFFALO, New York — The USA Hockey New York District Girls’ Tournament consisted of overtimes, a marathon shootout, and a winning goal which crossed the line at a snail's pace as six teams were crowned District champions.
Dual overtimes in Tier II
The first two championship games on Sunday shared a common starting time. They also shared overtime excitement.
The Tier II 19U Canton Steel took a 2-1 first period lead over the Cazenovia Chiefs. Rylee Garrow and Brycelan Sunday scored 33 seconds apart a few minutes into the game for a quick 2-0 lead.
Cazenovia quickly regrouped as Rebecca Holmes cut the lead in half a few minutes later on a long shot through a crowd.
The teams settled down until 1:04 into the third period when Bethany Horvatits tied it up. At 3:48 of the extra period, Olivia Hunter, following the play up, banged in a rebound to win it for Canton.
“She started with this team back in August,” Canton coach Matt Cullen said. “We do a pre and post schedule. Play a little bit in the fall, shut it down when they are playing high school, start it back up in the spring. They come from several different high schools. They come back to us. They work hard together. They wanted it bad.”
Carli Cartier made 25 saves for the win.
The Tier II 16U game decided to top that excitement. The Depew Saints and Potsdam Icestorm played a complete overtime and then went seven rounds in the shootout before a winner was finally decided.
The Saints upset the Icestorm, 2-1. Vanessa Willick got the first period goal for the Saints at 10:28, hammering home a rebound.
Then, Depew, which lost to Potsdam in the round robin, 5-1, played a smart, aggressive game. The Saints rarely pinched in their defenders, limiting Potsdam opportunities to transition with its speed. Around their own net, they threw in as many bodies as necessary to protect the crease and eliminate rebound shots.
“Effort,” was the one word Depew coach Dan Cole used to describe his team's performance. “That's all it was. They came to play today, and it showed.”
However, the Icestorm, who scored 23 goals prior to the final in just four games, finally broke through when Kennedy Emerson's long slapshot clanged off the post on its way in at 8:16 of the third.
The remaining regulation minutes and all of overtime saw both teams come oh-so-close to finishing off the game. Instead, it was onward to the shootout.
It appeared Potsdam was going take it as they converted on two of their first three shots. However, Depew scored on its next two to tie it up. From there, the contest went to the seventh round without a tally.
When Potsdam's seventh try was saved, Depew's Maeve Hourihan lined up for her try. She made a move across the crease and backhanded a high shot into the net.
“She's our captain,” Cole said of Hourihan. “One of our most talented players. She's all around a great player. Can't say enough about her.”
Elizabeth Timby made 36 saves, many spectacular ones, as well as stopping three penalty shots.
“She's been a rock all year. She's solid,” Cole said.
Ever So Slowly
The other Girls’ Tier II age group — 14U — appeared to be heading for overtime, scoreless, between the Rome Grizzlies and Saratoga Blue Knights. However, a wild 2:46 span with three goals in the third period decided the contest.
A penalty gave Rome a power play, but it was Saratoga who took advantage of it with a shorthanded tally by Beatrice Garvey at 8:57.
Another penalty gave Rome a two-player advantage, and after the first infraction expired, Rome tied it up. Kelsey Fuller, from the left side, wristed a shot up high at 10:22.
The winning goal at 11:43 came with a few redirects which had the goalie going the wrong way. The goaltender could not recover in time despite the puck crawling across the line. Alexis Stivali was the final player who tipped it, giving the Grizzlies the 2-1 victory.
“The girls kept working hard,” Rome coach Steve Zizzo said. “They found a way to get the puck in the net. And they hung on from there.”
Tier I action
The Tier I 19U division had just three teams playing a simple round robin. Rochester Youth (more commonly known as the Selects Academy), had the title wrapped up after winning their games on Friday and Saturday. But it wasn't clear sailing.
Rochester beat Northwood Prep, 5-4. Rochester held 2-0 and 4-2 leads only to see the game tied. Caroline Harvey got the game winner with 1:11 left in regulation.
Rochester beat the Niagara Junior Purple Eagles, 3-1. Rochester scored a goal each of the first two speriod, but Niagara's third period tally kept it close, before an empty netter put it away.
The other two age groups had identical 3-1 scores in their respective championship finals.
The 14U Rochester Edge, playing under the Perinton Youth Hockey banner, beat the Valley Eagles. Rochester scored a goal each period — even strength, power play and shorthanded.
Kayla Suders scored first. Abigail Cangemi made it 2-0, picking up a rebound in the slot and rifling a wrister.
Then, after Valley cut the lead in half by Briana Rockwood, Rochester ended Valley's hopes. Seconds after a power play started for Valley, Eva Mayo took the puck, raced down the left side, and put in a high backhander for the shorty and the 3-1 win.
“I thought it was a great game,” Rochester coach Sigmund VanDamme said. “Credit to Valley. It's a great team. It's been a great rivalry. This is the first two games in this tournament we've beaten them all year. I thought our girls really came through. Worked really hard. Showed a lot of character.”
VanDamme said of Mayo, “She is a very, very special player. She's the smoothest player. The game moves slowly for her.”
The 16U group saw the same final score but the reverse scenario where the Valley Eagles defeated the Rochester Youth (a.k.a. Selects Academy), 3-1.
Mia Lopata opened the scoring late in the first period. McKenzie Schmidt made it 2-0 at 8:16 of the second scoring from the side of the post after receiving a cross-ice pass from Shea Baker.
Abby Holcomb slammed home a shot from in front at 15:40 to make it 3-0. Rochester got one back with an extra attacker late in the third when Avi Adam put it in from down low. But it was too little, too late for Rochester.
Valley also defeated Rochester in the round robin, 1-0, on a first period goal by Baker.