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Team Wyoming Saved its Best Performance for Last at Youth Tier II 18U 1A National Championship

By Tom Robinson, 04/07/24, 5:45PM MDT


Wyoming won the title thanks to a 4-0 shutout against the Idaho Junior Steelheads.

DELMONT, Pa. – Team Wyoming (WY) picked its most important game of its trip to the 2024 Chipotle-USA Hockey Youth Tier II 18U 1A National Championships for its most decisive victory.

After combining comebacks, late game-winners and even overtime escapes in its unbeaten run through the 1A bracket, Team Wyoming locked up the title Sunday morning with a 4-0 shutout of the Idaho Junior Steelheads (ID) at the Palmer Imaging Arena.

Goalie Isaak Erickson made 23 saves, the toughest of which came during the four penalties Team Wyoming killed while protecting its lead.

“[Saturday], we had a really tough game,” Erickson said of a come-from-behind 3-2 victory over the Jr. Mustangs (UT) in the semifinals. “I think it brought us all together. We won in overtime. It took everything we had.

“We had to recover and bring it back. [Sunday’s] game went much more smooth.”

It was also smoother than the first meeting with the Jr. Steelheads, which came Thursday during pool play.

Idaho, which finished second to Wyoming in the national pool, scored twice in the third period of that game to force a tie before C.J. Lang scored the game-winner with 5:22 left in regulation for a 3-2 victory.

Except for some tense moments while holding a 1-0 lead in the last few minutes of the first period, Sunday’s rematch was different.

“In the locker room, we were electric,” Lang said. “We just had a mindset. We’re seniors. We have to have a last hurrah. Just come out strong and come out fast.”

Anthony Moorehead was stopped from close range in front midway through the first period, but scored on the next rush up ice when he converted Mason Chapmon’s pass from behind the net.

Chapmon and Lang each had two points in the title game.

Lang, a defenseman, took a shot to start a stretch of three goals in 2:49 late in the second period to create the four-goal margin.

“It rebounded, we collected it behind the net and Kolin Krizan stuck it right behind the goalie,” Lang said.

The referee immediately ruled that the puck had briefly crossed the goal line before Idaho goalie Blake Drost knocked it away.

Drost made consecutive close-range stops before Holden Leosh wristed a longer rebound through the fallen bodies in front for another goal 39 seconds later.

Lang had an assist on the last goal, at 1:02 of the third. Chapmon’s first try from the right side was stopped, but he gathered the rebound, skated across the front and flipped a backhand into the net.

Wyoming broke away with a dominant second period, outshooting Idaho 15-4 until giving up two quality chances in the last 28 seconds.

Erickson made nine more saves in the third period to complete the shutout, his first of the tournament.

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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