The RI Saints utilized three second period goals to help propel the team to a 7-2 victory over Shattuck-St. Mary’s and advance to the Chipotle-USA Hockey Youth Tier I 18U National Championship game on Monday.
The Saints jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first period thanks to a late goal by Cameron O’Neill. The assists went to Seth Constance and Micah Berger.
Rhode Island would add to its lead 1:23 into the second period thanks to a Jason Stefanek goal. Just 37 seconds later, Stefanek tallied another marker to make it 3-0 Saints.
“We talked about making sure we defend [after the first period],” said head coach Matt Plante. “I thought we did a great job of defending against them and we were able to create our opportunities from that, and we executed extremely well in the offensive zone.”
Shattuck scored 1:35 later when Anthony Yu found the back of the net. The Saints responded with a fourth goal with 6:19 to go in the second when Micah Berger scored his first of three goals. His second would come just over a minute into the third, which increased the Saints lead to 5-1.
Rhode Island added to its lead midway through the final frame when Berger completed the hat trick.
Each team scored in the final minute accounting for the 7-2 final.
“I think there’s just a feeling on all of our chests that we can win the whole thing,” said Berger. “We lost to [Shattuck] earlier in the year, but I think we have the team to do it. I also think team defense helped us. We were blocking shots, we were playing for each other. We’re brothers here.”
Even with the win, Plante had one message for the team: the job is not done.
“Words can’t express how proud I am of this group. But we have one more game. We need to stay locked in on how we want to play, and as excited as we are, the job is not finished.”
The St. Louis Blues earned a spot in Monday’s Chipotle-USA Hockey Youth Tier I 18U National Championship game thanks to an overtime winner by Tyler Loughman. The Blues will face the Rhode Island Saints in a battle for the title.
“At the beginning of the year you set the standard and goal of what you want to do,” said head coach Jeff Brown. “To get to the National Championship the way we did against a great team is pretty special.”
The Blues earned a 1-0 lead less than three minutes into the first period after Alexander Fendler scored. Luke Chase was credited with the assist. The team would carry that lead into the second period.
Despite some chances for the Regals in the second, Isaac Mejia-Troop stopped all of the shots he faced in that frame.
“I thought he played unbelievable,” said Brown. “He made some huge saves so we were really happy with him.”
It wasn’t until late in the third when the Regals were finally able to break through and tie the game on a Lee Parks goal, helping to send the game to overtime.
In the overtime period, both teams exchanged chances. Mejia-Troop made a couple of big saves before the Blues were able to establish some more offensive zone pressure, leading to Loughman’s game-winner.
“My linemates were down there back-to-back,” said Loughman. “I just happened to be in the right place at the right time and that was it. Next thing I knew I was getting jumped on.
“The whole overtime we were bringing the pressure. We knew this was the goal we wanted to achieve, and we’re so excited for tomorrow.”