After they had unintentionally followed a pattern of finishing second in most of their major tournaments this season, the New Jersey Colonials took the most opportune time to end their misery in a truly unified fashion.
Before a couple hundred of their fans and within a relatively short drive of the majority of their homes, the Colonials blanked the Florida Everblades 3-0 to capture the USA Hockey 12-Under Tier I boys National Championship at the Ice House in Hackensack, N.J.
Holding a 1-0 lead heading into the third period, New Jersey sealed the victory with a pair of third-period goals that broke open a tight game. Yet, it was the Colonials’ overall team effort that carried them into the finals and to their first National Championship.
As a symbol of their unity, all of the players rushed toward silver plate when the team’s captains were announced to receive the championship trophy.
“We were truly a symbol of being a team today,” Colonials coach Noel Rubin said of his team that won the Atlantic District title prior to Nationals. “We may not have been the most talented team, but we did the little things right. We have really worked hard for this day for about five years.
“Our goal has always been to get to Nationals and win it.”
In reaching their goal, the Colonials were especially pleasing to get the runner-up tag off heir backs.
“We were second in every tournament we played in, and we had a lot of injuries early in the year. We were second in the Super Series in Buffalo and went to Detroit and we were second in the Nation’s Cup. We were second in all of these tournaments that didn’t quite stack up to this one. We wanted to end that streak and we just brought it,” Rubin said. “These kids wanted it more than anything else.”
Rubin noted the Colonials’ split with highly touted No. 2-ranked Little Caesars of Michigan and a 3-2 sudden-death overtime victory over the Dallas Stars Elite as key wins in their six-game ride to the top.
“It was great that we got to play Caesars twice and we had a great game against Dallas,” said Rubin, whose team won 62 games this year. “We played them [Dallas] six times this year and that got us ready.
“We won the most games in the country and we played a terrific schedule and that helped mold us into shape.”
It didn’t take long for the Colonials to show their unified effort in the tournament as well as the championship game. Andrew O’Connor opened the scoring for New Jersey in the second period, and Alexander Drobot and Shaun Billy added tallies in the final stanza.
“It is just an indescribable feeling,” said Drobot, who scored his team’s second goal of the game early in the third period. “We beat the No. 2 team [Little Caesar’s] and then won it all.
“We had a good feeling when we blew out Alaska [9-1] in our first game and it was something to build on. We were tired of finishing second and we did something about it.”
“There is nothing like being on the ice in the last few minutes,” added Colonials goaltender David Tomeo, who registered 26 saves, many of them in third period. “Everybody worked together, and we couldn’t have done it without each other. Coming in second was just bad luck. I would rather come in second in every other tournament and win this. My defense and I worked together.”
It was a difficult way to end the season for Florida, which also experienced a strong season.
“[The Colonials] are a great team,” said Florida coach Tad O’Had, whose team won the USA Hockey Southeastern District championship. “We set our expectations high all season and it was great to get this far. This is a great experience for these kids. We are always on the road because we have played only two tournaments in the state of Florida.”
Story courtesy of Red Line Editorial, Inc.
Tag(s): Youth Tier-I