WEST CHESTER, Pa. — Svetlana Yarosh and the Crnarich sisters have been through a lot of hockey games together — many of them pursuing a previously elusive national title.
So, when the Steel City Selects (Pennsylvania) seemed to be in just a little bit of trouble in the opening seconds of overtime, Yarosh and Laura Crnarich knew just what to expect from each other.
In a twist that caught even Selects coach Jim Black by surprise, Yarosh was already making a move to center ice when Crnarich stopped the Arizona Kachinas’ pressure deep in the defensive zone on the first shift of the extra session.
“Svet had been around the net all game and had tons of opportunities,” Black said after Yarosh scored the game-winner on a breakaway just 23 seconds into overtime.
It was a swift conclusion to a 1A title game that had featured 51 minutes of scoreless hockey in regulation of the Chipotle-USA Hockey Girls Tier II 19U National Championships.
“They came at us pretty hard to start the overtime,” Black said. “It was a great outlet pass. To be honest, I wasn’t even looking in that direction. I didn’t know [Yarosh] was up ice like that.
“I’m glad they got it done and the overtime didn’t drag out too long. It was the perfect way for the girls to cap off a great season.”
It was a painful ending to the season for the Kachinas, which put all three of their teams in national championship games. Two lost in overtime and another lost in a shootout.
Yarosh could see it coming — even if her coach didn’t — after Arizona won the faceoff and immediately got the puck in deep.
“We made a turnover and we got the puck,” Yarosh said. “Laura and her sister have always played with me so I knew that I trusted her and knew she would get up the ice a bit.
“I saw their D pinch down and I knew it was time to go for a breakaway.”
Crnarich’s pass and Yarosh’s speed combined to get her to center ice between the Arizona defensemen and into the clear.
“I knew I had my team on my back coming in to crash the net with me,” Yarosh said. “I just focused on the shot rather than ‘oh, if I miss.’”
Yarosh, Laura and Megan Crnarich were part of a team that made it to 14U Nationals five years ago.
“Our first Nationals, we didn’t score at all,” Yarosh said. “This is a huge jump.”
They were part of a group of players that made it to the 16U championship at Nationals last year, while Black was coaching a 19U team that reached the semifinals.
The remnants of both teams formed a championship combination this season.
Morgan Black and Laura Crnarich shared the team lead with six points each at the tournament.
Arizona had the tournament’s two most-effective point producers. Jenna Majewski had seven goals and two assists while Aidyn DiGrazia had four goals and four assists.
That firepower was contained in the final as Steel City piled up a 32-8 shot advantage.
After constantly being on the attack against goalie Sophia Villaneuva in regulation, the Selects won it with the counterattack in overtime.
“Hats off to their goaltender,” coach Black said. “She played a phenomenal game and defensively they did a real good job of keeping us to the outside.”
As Villaneuva made save after save, the Selects remained calm, waiting for their opportunity.
“When we got down toward overtime, we had been there before. There were really no nerves on our bench.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.