Scoring early and often has been the hallmark of Shattuck-St. Mary’s (MN) success at the 2021 Chipotle-USA Hockey National 14U Championship this week in Dallas. In three preliminary round games, the boys from Faribault have wasted little time in putting opponents in a hole they couldn’t dig out of, outscoring them 11-1 in the opening frame.
Those quick starts continued on Saturday as Will Skahan scored twice in the first period to pace the top seed in the tournament to a 4-1 victory over the Chicago Mission (IL) and set up a semifinal showdown with the LA Jr. Kings (CA).
Cole Eiserman and Aidan Park joined Skahan on the scoresheet, and a stifling Shattuck defense kept Mission forwards away from prime scoring areas, which resulted in William Lubimov being seldom tested in a 15-save performance.
“I thought that top to bottom it was a really good game,” said Shattuck head coach Christian Bragnalo. “I thought we did a good job of keeping them to the outside for the most part and not allowing any second chances.”
Skahan wasted little time getting Shattuck on the board, cruising over the blueline and beating Mission goalie Nicholas Kempf clean three minutes into the game.
Despite surrendering four goals, Kempf kept the Mission in the game, making one highlight save after another. In total, he made 34 saves, including 16 in the third period.
“Man, did he play good,” Bragnalo said. “We played them earlier in the year and he did the same thing. We pumped him with shots and he stood on his head. He’s really good.”
One advantage of playing the first game of the day, there’s plenty of time to recharge the batteries and get ready for their next challenge.
“It’s kick your feet up time in the hotel and not do too much and just get as much rest as you can,” Bragnalo said.
HIGHLIGHT: Will Skahan scores the first of his two goals opening period goals to help lead Shattuck-St. Mary's to the semifinals.
Colin Frank and Kai Mencel scored first period goals as the LA Jr. Kings jumped out to an early lead and then held off a ferocious push by the RI Saints in the final minutes to advance to the semifinals.
Jackson Delleo scored his second goal of the game shortly after the Kings killed off a penalty to narrow the lead but Jackson Silverberg came up big in the waning moments to preserve the win.
“I thought our penalty killing was great today,” said Kings head coach Brett Beebe. “Jackson had to come up with some big saves and we were able to continue to roll three lines, which will help us as we get ready for tomorrow.”
Buffalo Saints 6, St. Louis Blues 2
Five different players found the back of the net in the first period as the Buffalo Saints played a complete game to skate into Sunday’s semifinals.
Justin Dumais opened the scoring 2:25 into the game and James Chase and Kashton Crawford scored 50 seconds apart to blow the game open. Nathan Delladonna and Braxton Meyer also scored in the opening period.
“Our main focus was to come out and have a good first period,” said head coach Robert Murden. “Our kids did a good job of playing within our structure from the drop of the puck all the way through the third period. I’m really proud of our kids for playing a complete game.”
St. Louis tried to chip away at the Saints lead with goals from Drew Bross in the second and Adrie O’Hanlon in the third.
Next up for the Saints will be the Boston Jr. Eagles, a team they have met four times this season, with every game a close contest.
Boston Jr. Eagles 5, Pittsburgh Penguins Elite 2
Jack Sadowski and Theodore Stiga scored two goals apiece and Brendan Carberry (15 saves) continued his stingy ways between the pipes as the Boston Jr. Eagles produced another impressive win. Tij Iginla opened the scoring two minutes into the game and the Jr. Eagles clamped down on the Penguins Elite.
“Today was a great team effort. I don’t think we necessarily had our A game today, but we found a way to keep competing, keep working. We made some mistakes, but we stuck with it,” said Eagles head coach John Sadowski. “Our goalie and our defense have been really good this tournament. When you’re giving up one or two goals you’re going to put yourselves in a position to be successful.”