Eight months ago, the Indianapolis Racers 12-Under Tier II boys team began its season. The journey had it fair shares of highs and lows, but it ended where few teams get to go — in the USA Hockey National Championship game.
Backed by fast starts throughout the tournament, Indianapolis got out to another quick start and never looked back en route to a 5-2 victory over the Pittsburgh 98’s in the 2A championship game Sunday afternoon at Sharks Ice in San Jose.
Indianapolis wasted little time showing who the top team was on Sunday. The Racers potted two goals in the first period, started off by a scrum in front. Joey Bolger poked in the loose puck to open the scoring with 5:34 left in the first period. Will Schlagenhauf then poked in a backbreaker with less than a minute to play in the period. After a wraparound try was denied, Schlagenhauf picked up his teammate and cleaned up the mess in front.
The far post tap-in gave the Racers a 2-0 lead after one period.
“It was a great start,” Indianapolis coach Fred Knipscheer said. “We have been doing that the whole tournament. The kids didn’t show any nerves early, which was great to see. We have depth all the way through the lineup and we were able to use that again to our advantage today.”
Jack Knipscheer and Joey Barone assisted on the second goal. The unselfish play was a trademark of the Racers’ championship effort throughout their stay in San Jose.
“Fourteen of our 16 skaters scored a goal this week,” Knipscheer said. “It’s unbelievable. The boys knew their roles and really played outstanding hockey. Everyone on our roster had a part in us getting here.”
Matt Sawyer continued the Indy fun midway through the second period, scoring a power-play goal to extend the advantage to 3-0.
“We usually start games good,” Racers captain Riley Doyon said. “We all want each other to do well. It’s been a great experience. Right from the start, I always knew that we could do this.”
Sawyer lifted a wrist shot high into the top corner to end a strong power play with a goal.
The Pittsburgh 98’s came into the finals undefeated along with the Racers. The black-and-yellow clad bunch scored the first of two goals on the afternoon late in the second period.
Aiden Beck buried a pretty crossing feed from teammate Brendan Walkom to get the 98’s on the board with 1:31 left in the second.
Roman Kraemer tipped in the second Pittsburgh goal midway through the final period of play.
Nikita Slivchenko and Billy Harris each got assists on the score.
Justin Whited and Doyon each added goals for the Racers in the final period. Whited picked up a rebound next to the post and zipped behind the net to wrap in the pretty finish.
Doyon’s empty-netter started off the celebration with just less than a minute to play.
“It was crazy,” Doyon said about his emotions after the empty-netter went in. “I was just so happy that we did it. I just wanted the game to end so I could celebrate with my teammates.”
Story courtesy of Red Line Editorial, Inc.
Tag(s): 12 & Under