Cael Dolph scored the game-winning goal for the Thunderbirds two minutes into the third period to defeat Pittsburgh Penguins Elite, 3-2, to advance to the 16U championship game of the Chipotle-USA Hockey National Championship.
The Penguins claimed a 1-0 lead two minutes into the second period when Edward Paulissian backhanded the puck in off the back of Colorado goaltender Nicholas Hansen from below the goal line.
Hansen was impressive and quite busy in net, finishing with 32 saves to help back the Thunderbirds to victory.
Colorado scored two goals within 15 seconds to overtake Pittsburgh, 2-1, halfway through the second frame.
The first of the two goals for the Thunderbirds was scored by Borya Valis on the power play, tying the game, 1-1, with 7:14 on the clock in the second.
Colorado's quick strike was completed when Jack O’Rourke cleaned up the rebound off an initial shot from Dolph.
Pittsburgh leveled the score 47 seconds later. William Moore landed a wrist shot in the top left corner of the net to put the score at 2-2 with 6:12 to go in the second. Paulissian and Grant Dietz picked up the assists on the play.
With just about two minutes erased off the clock in the third, Colorado took its final lead to of the game when Dolph tipped the puck in on the back doorstep, thanks to a cross-crease pass from Noah Grolnic to win it for the Thunderbirds, 3-2.
HIGHLIGHT: Borya Valis erases an early Colorado deficit with a great shot.
In an exciting overtime thriller, Nicholas Moldenhauer scored the game-winning goal in overtime to send the NJ Avalanche to the championship game, defeating the Buffalo Saints 3-2 in extra time. After trailing the Saints, 2-0, in the third, Avalanche's Quentin Musty scored two goals to force the game into overtime.
John Kniedel struck first in the game for the Buffalo Saints after he tipped in a shot from Nicholas Peluso from the point. Dylan Wegner took credit for the secondary assist on the play.
At the beginning of the third period, John Humphreys poked in a loose rebound and gave Buffalo a 2-0 lead with 12:08 remaining in regulation.
Musty scored his first of the day with 6:11 left in the third to cut Buffalo’s lead in half, 2-1.
With 2:32 left on the clock in the third, Musty tallied his second goal to tie the game 2-2, and force overtime. Moldenhauer shuffled the puck up to Musty who spun around and chipped it top shelf. Mick Thompson also earned an assist on Musty’s equalizer.
Moldenhauer scored 10:29 into the overtime period to send the Avalanche to the championship game.
HIGHLIGHT: Nicholas Moldenhauer scores the game-winning goal in overtime to send the NJ Avalanche to the championship game.