BYRON CENTER, Mich. — The USA Eagles (Michigan) finished off an undefeated tournament as they took the 3A title in the 2021 USA Hockey-Chipotle Youth Tier II 16U National Championships, beating Cazenovia Park Hockey (New York) by a score of 3-2.
The Eagles drew first blood early in the contest as Kyle Lucia scored the first goal of the game off of an assist from Jacob Budabin to take a 1-0 lead. Cazenovia Park answered back roughly three minutes later thanks to a power play goal from Brandon Licursi off of assists from Sean Becker and Michael Robertson. The Eagles would answer back late in the period to take a 2-1 lead off of a power-play goal from Lucia.
The first period was a defensive-heavy one from both teams as the Eagles and Cazenovia were only able to generate six shots of offense, despite the three goals.
The Detroit area-based Eagles started off the second period with a bang as they scored just over two minutes into the start of the period as Ty Esterline netted the goal thanks to assists from Lucia and Ethan Hellman to take a 3-1 lead. Shortly after USA scored, Cazenovia answered right back with a goal from Michael Robertson with an assist from Sean Becker to cut their deficit to 3-2.
The Eagles had their strongest offensive period of the game in the second as they were able to generate 13 shots on goal, which was the most by either team throughout the contest.
Cazenovia, out of South Buffalo, entered the final frame down, 3-2, as both teams went on to play a very physical third period. Cazenovia would pull their goaltender to bring out an extra attacker and the Eagles almost made the final score 4-2, but missed the shot on an open Cazenovia net. Ultimately the Eagles didn’t need any more offensive support and would take the contest, 3-2.
Even though Cazenovia lost, they were able to play some very disciplined hockey and stayed at full strength for the majority of the contest, helping keep the game within reach with just three penalties against. The Eagles went to the box six times for a total of 12 minutes.
The Eagles held a slight edge in shots, 25-20. Cazenovia was unable to generate enough chances in five-on-five play, scoring their only two goals on the power play. The Eagles' win was carried by just four of their 17 skaters who were responsible for all of their points.
Lucia led the Eagles in points and goals on the day as he earned three total points on two goals and one assist. Esterline scored one goal and racked up one assist. Hellerman racked up two points on two assists and Budabin earned one assist.
Cazenovia relied on just three skaters to generate their offense as Robertson, Becker and Licursi accounted for the team’s entire offensive stat sheet. Robertson netted one goal and earned one assist. Becker was the team’s top playmaker as he earned two assists which accounted for all of his points and Licursi scored one goal.
Both goaltenders for both teams posted solid games. USA goalie Henry Ellenbogen stopped 18 on 20 shots, allowing just two goals. Cazenovia goalie Jeff Roberts stopped 19 shots on the day.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.