Plymouth, Mich. – Mission goalie Nicholas Kempf recorded 42 saves and Robert Bartell netted the game-winning goal to lead Chicago Mission to the Chipotle-USA Hockey Youth Tier I 15O National Championship.
“It’s not an easy task to beat Shattuck twice in the same tournament,” head coach of Chicago Mission Michal Pivonka said. “I’m so proud of my guys, we had a rough ride with them early in the season but when we beat them in the round robin, they got it, it showed that we can take them on. I told them that we’ll probably see them in the final if we make it, and that’s what happened.”
In a rematch of the exhilarating round robin game between the two teams, where Chicago Mission came out victorious, it did not disappoint as the teams were evenly matched. Mission controlled the puck in its offensive zone in the opening minute but couldn’t generate a shot as the game then started to shift to its defensive zone.
William Zellers gained control for Shattuck and fired one off but starting Mission netminder Kempf was on his ‘A’ game early. Shattuck continued to pack it on with a handful of shots and maintained pressure in its offensive zone before Mission recorded its first shot, 6:30 into the period. Mission found its groove and had a few good looks on the power play but remained scoreless.
Shorthanded, Shattuck picked the puck off and generated a two-on-one opportunity to break through, but a Mission stick got in the way to keep things even after one.
John Galanek had a chance in the slot in the opening minute off a pass from behind the net, but Kempf blocked it aside. After a defensive zone draw, 1:36 into the second, Charle Arend for Mission gained control into the zone and sent one to the far end of the crease. Gustas Zemaitis was in the right place at the right time and deflected the puck to the top of the net to get on the board.
Shortly after his assist, Charles Arend skated around a Shattuck defender and rang one off the pipe, nearly putting his team up a pair. Although the offense wasn’t lacking for Shattuck, producing 30 shots in the first two periods, they couldn’t breakthrough and went into the final frame down one.
Still in the lead, Mission looked to give itself some room to breathe. The team attacked on the power play, and that’s exactly what it did. Bartell potted one with help from Eero Butella with about 10:00 to play to give the team some cushion.
Shattuck wouldn’t go down without a fight, and an elbowing call against Mission gave the team some energy. John Whipple ripped a shot from the faceoff circle which was too much for the Mission goalie to contain. Ryker Lee cleaned up the loose puck in front to cut the teams deficit to just a goal with 8:41 left. But Mission and Kempf played tough and made it difficult for Shattuck to tie it up.
“He’s been great for us in net the whole year, that’s no question,” Pivonka said about his goalie. “He played his best game ever, on the right stage too, and couldn’t be more proud of him.”
Mission answered though two minutes later after a dribbling puck found Zemaitis who backhanded it right past the goalie to put Mission up by two yet again. Shattuck emptied its net with 3:32 to go in hopes to make things closer, but Jake Merens found the back of the net a minute later to seal the game and the national championship, 4-1.