After trailing the Thunderbirds, 1-0, at the start of the second, the NJ Avalanche scored five consecutive goals to defeat Colorado, 5-1, and claim the Chipotle-USA Hockey Youth Tier I 16U National Championship. Quentin Musty scored two of the Avalanche’s five goals and Peter Klemm registered three assists.
“I am so tremendously proud,” said Vinny Smith, head coach of the NJ Avalanche. “This is a really special group of kids and I’m so glad they got to showcase who they are and show everyone what they can do. I couldn’t be happier.”
Both teams came out hungry in the first period. There was no shortage of chances for either team as shots on goal were nearly level, 7-6, in favor of Colorado after the first.
Musty put the puck on net early into the championship game, but Colorado goaltender Nicholas Hansen came up with a big save to keep the game scoreless. Moments later, Colorado’s Michael Valdez rang one off the post that got the crowd out of their seats.
With five minutes erased off the clock in the first, David Hejduk landed a shot on net for the Thunderbirds and tried again on the rebound, but his shot trickled just wide of the net.
Colorado opened the scoring less than two minutes into the second period when Jack O’Rourke buried a one-timer on the back doorstep off a cross-crease feed from Reid Conn to give the Thunderbirds a 1-0 lead.
The Avalanche capitalized on the power play with 8:33 to go in the period to knot things up, 1-1. Then, North Jersey scored a power play goal with 0.1 of a second left on the clock to take a 2-1 lead heading into the intermission. Musty set up shop on the power play down at the near faceoff dot and then buried the puck in the top right corner off a pass from Klemm.
The Avalanche ran away with it in the third, scoring three unanswered goals to jump ahead, 5-1.
Coming out of the break, Lucas Buchanan scored a short-handed goal for the Avalanche to extend North Jersey’s lead, to 3-1, with 13:18 to play in the third period.
The Avalanche scored back-to-back goals within two minutes in the back half of the third period to take a commanding 5-1 lead and the eventual final.
Musty netted his second of the game on the power play with less than 10 to play in the game and it was a spitting image of his power play goal from before. Musty landed a wrist shot in the back of the net from right around the faceoff dot to give the Avalanche a 4-1 lead. Three of North Jersey’s five goals were on the power play.
Antonio Arcaroli joined in on the scoring for North Jersey with 6:39 left on the clock in the third. Coming down on a 3-on-2 Arcaroli chipped in his own rebound to solidify it 5-1 for the Avalanche win.