AMHERST, N.Y. — Fifteen seconds.
That is what decided the 3A crown for the 2023 USA-Chipotle USA Hockey Youth Tier II 16U National Championships.
The Littleton Hawks (CO) scored twice within 15 seconds early in the third, and then for good measure, added another goal 39 seconds later en route to a 4-2 victory over the Woodbridge Wolfpack (NJ).
Littleton coach Cole Fletcher explained what led to the outburst.
“In between the period we said, ‘Do we want it, and who’s going to do it?’ and they all said, ‘We will.’” Fletcher said. “And they did everything we asked of them.”
With the score tied 1-1 heading into the third, the outburst began because of the simple hockey adage — drive the net. Jack Hannock did just that, driving wide, shooting the puck on net, and Tyler Vaughn buried the rebound.
When something is successful, do it again 15 seconds later. This time, Zachary Palik drove wide, got the puck on net, and Hannock was the one to bury the rebound to make it a 3-1 game at 1:40 into the final period.
But Littleton didn’t stop there. At 2:19, the Hawks made it 4-1 when Bennett Engle’s pass across the net was put in by Bodie Tillman.
“I did not expect [that explosion],” Littleton forward Carson Petz said. “I know what we’re capable of. I know we can do that kind of stuff. We caught them at a weak point and put three up. That was a huge period.”
Woodbridge took the initial lead at 2:54 of the opening period when Daltry Ferrigno scored from the left slot area.
That lead held up till 6:35 of the middle period when Max Neumayr tied it up for the Hawks.
After the outburst in the third period, the Wolfpack did not give up. They took advantage of a power play to cut the lead to 4-2 at 5:13 of the third. Christian Adamski’s wrister from the top of the right circle gave Woodbridge hope.
However, a breakaway and some point-blank shots were all stopped by Chamberlain Nocera, who made 23 saves to get the win.
“It was a very competitive game up and down,” Woodbridge coach Robert Cherella said. “We had our chances. Got it within two and just couldn’t bury our chances. Hats off to that team right there. They skated hard. They wanted it.”
Littleton won all six games in the tournament, including a 3-2 overtime contest against the Chicago Bulldogs (IL) in the quarterfinals and another 3-2 win against the Boston Jr. Eagles (MA) in the semifinals.
“Our boys came out and did everything they needed to do,” Fletcher said. “We were definitely nervous about how we were going to show up today. They just all came together as 20 individuals. It was phenomenal.”
This group of Hawks’ players is used to playing at nationals, but Petz said it felt great to finally return home with a banner.
“This is our fourth time at nattys,” he said. “Really glad to get the win. Never have done it before. To come out on top is crazy.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.