TROY, Mich. — Goaltender Blake Truchon turned aside all 22 shots he faced in leading the Vermont St. Pats to a 3-0 triumph over the Park City (Utah) Ice Miners in the 1A title game of the 2022 Chipotle-USA Hockey Youth Tier ll 16U National Championships at the Troy Sports Center, in Troy, Michigan.
St. Pats head coach Brent Truchon had high praise for his son and the rest of his team in basking in the limelight following the coveted championship.
“The kids on this team are all 15 and they did not play the scoreboard, they worked as a unit,” said Truchon. “Blake and the rest of the team just got better with each game here at the tournament and I would say they played their best game today.”
The coach felt the key to the victory was puck control.
“We as a team had the puck a ton and moved it around really well,” Truchon continued. “This is a tough group to beat when we have the puck that much.”
The Miners began the game in penalty trouble and in all were whistled for eight minors throughout the contest, including the first three penalties of the game. On the bright side, Park City was able to kill all eight infractions, but assistant coach Karter Kovar thought all the special teams play hurt the team in both offensive flow and chasing the puck.
“It was something we could not control and things sometimes don’t go your own way,” said Kovar. “It’s hard to score goals when you are always a man down as a team and it was hard to get things going and especially getting pucks to the net.”
After the game, young goaltender Blake talked about his effort and that of the team in front of him.
“The defensive effort was great throughout and in the first two games I only had to stop about twenty shots,” said the South Burlington, Vermont, native. “The team played great all weekend and today I did not have to do to much because they were solid in front of me for the entire game.”
The first period was scoreless until the final minute of play. With 39 seconds left, Patrick Cooley netted his ninth goal of the tournament which began March 31st. The play was just inside the Park City blue line, when Alex Zuchowski let go a blast from the point and Cooley deflected it past goaltender Noah Grefe for a 1-0 lead.
Vermont had a slight edge in shots 10-9 in the opening stanza and the only two minor penalties were assessed to Park City. There were six minor penalties called in the scoreless second period, including a five-on-three advantage for close to two minutes, but the Miners escaped further trouble and were still very much in the game, still down by a single marker.
Park City outshot the St. Pats by a slight margin of 10-8. Vermont scored the all-important insurance goal with less than six minutes to play in the contest. Logan Lambrecht scored his third goal of the weekend with the lone assist going to Nicholas Kelly. It was Kelly’s eighth helper of the tournament.
The Miners had their best chance to break the shutout shortly after in the final minutes. Boston Bradshaw was sent a perfect feed from the side of the goal from Max Workman and as Bradshaw went to shoot, the puck jumped over his stick and went into the corner. Vermont put the icing on the title with an empty net goal that featured a three-way passing play finished off by Zuchowski, who matched Cooley’s game totals with a goal and an assist. Reid Fesette and the aforementioned Cooley contributed to the goal.
Kovar said Vermont played a great team game.
“They certainly lived up to all the hype,” he said. “They are a very good hockey team and we tested them throughout and hopefully we will be back next season.”
Vermont outshot Utah Park City, 7-3, in the third period and 25-22 overall in what was an evenly match set of teams. St. Pats head coach Truchon was extremely satisfied with his team after the great effort.
“I am so proud of my team,” he said, “and the effort that they gave today and throughout the entire season.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.