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Nashville Jr. Predators Ride Efficient Scoring to Girls Tier II 16U 1A Championship

By Jim Hoehn, 04/07/24, 4:45PM MDT


Despite being outshot 30-17 in the title game, the Predators prevailed 2-1.

ASHWAUBENON, Wis. — The Nashville Jr. Predators (TN) turned the difference between shots on goal and shots that find the back of the net into a national championship.

Lily Lambert and Presley Davies scored a goal apiece, while Reese Mackenzie turned away 29 shots to pace the Predators to a 2-1 victory over the Malone Adirondack 46ers (NY) on Sunday in the title game of the 2024 Chipotle-USA Hockey Girls Tier II 16U 1A National Championship at the Cornerstone Community Center.

The Predators won despite being outshot 30-17, including 14-3 in the second period when they took a 1-0 lead.

“That’s how we’ve been all season,” Predators coach Mekenzie Steffen said. “People call us opportunistic because we might not have a ton of shots on net, but we always find a way to get them in the net.

“And, obviously Reese Mackenzie stood on her head and kept us in the game,” Steffen said. “I’m really proud of the girls and it was an unbelievable weekend.

Lambert put Nashville in front 1-0 just 35 seconds into the second period with a score from outside the left post.

The 46ers failed to capitalize on several scoring opportunities, including a shot just outside the right post with a little over minute remaining in the second period.

“It slid right across the crease,” said 46ers coach Matt Jones. “Sometimes, especially in championship games, you need some lucky bounces, and some of those bounces just didn’t go our way today.”

Nashville killed a penalty early in the third period, and then pushed the lead to 2-0 less than a minute later when Davies alertly pounced on a loose puck in a scramble in front of the net.

Evelyn Noakes got the 46ers on the board with 8:07 remaining. But in the closing minutes, Nashville was able to keep the 46ers bottled up in their own zone.

In addition to the penalty kill before their second goal, the Predators also had a critical penalty kill over the final 33 seconds of the second period and into the start of the final period.

Steffen said that she had looked at the 46ers stats prior to the tournament and they had scored on all of their power plays heading into the final.

“To kill off those penalties, the momentum was in our favor,” Steffen said. “If you have a massive kill with a power play that’s 100 percent, it brings momentum, and then you get a puck in the back of the net, the game is in your favor.”

Mackenzie was a big part of those penalty kills. The goaltender stopped all but eight of the 145 shots against her in the six games she played in the tournament.

“Pressure is a privilege, and it was a great experience. It was awesome,” Mackenzie said. “I feel like I definitely did my job and gave my team a chance. And, they supported me. I couldn’t have done it without them. Our defenders are fantastic.”

Despite the loss, Jones was proud of his team’s effort.

“I thought our girls gave it everything they had,” Jones said. “We showed up here this week in Green Bay and our girls got better each game. I think today we played well, but we ran into a hot goalie and their team put more pucks in the net than we did.”

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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