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Casco Bay boys put on another defensive gem for 14-U Tier II 1A national title — Maine’s first (1A Recap)

By Russell Jaslow, 04/03/11, 7:15PM MDT


The Casco Bay Mariners continued their total team defensive approach to shut out the Nashville Junior Predators 5-0 in the USA Hockey 14-Under boys Tier II Division 1A National Championship game on Sunday. It’s a style the Mariners relied on for the entire tournament.

This was Casco Bay’s fifth shutout in six games, and in the other game, they let up just one goal. That’s a 0.17 goals-against average at the Northtown Center in Williamsville, N.Y.

“It’s a total team effort, commitment to two-way hockey,” Casco co-coach David Weatherbie said. “Our goalies played very well. They made the saves when they had to. Our defensemen played extremely well both yesterday and today, really limiting the number of scoring opportunities both by Atlanta and Nashville. And our forwards were coming back, checking hard. We didn’t give them a lot of room and space to give them quality opportunities, but when we did, our goalies came up big.”

It was a close game after one period, despite Casco Bay having a 13-3 advantage in shots. Casco took control of the game with four goals in the second period.

“All week we’ve been a dominant team in the second period,” Casco co-coach John Hart said. “We feel like if we can get our legs going, put pressure on the other team, keep attacking, we can have success in the second period. It pretty much played out the way we thought it would. We were fortunate enough to get some goals, and we really took control of the game in the second period.”

The initial goal came at 5:02 into the game when Griffin Py, wide open in the high slot, received a pass from Stephen Barry and picked the corner above the goaltender’s glove with a wrist shot.

“Nashville came out with a lot of energy early in the game, and I think we matched it,” Hart said. “The first period was tight checking as we expected. We got a great first goal on a terrific shot from Griffin Py. It got us going a little bit.”

Casco Bay began its second period domination in quick fashion scoring twice — at the 0:59 mark and again at 2:32. First it was Sterling Weatherbie who squeezed a shot in after receiving a pass from Ben Freeman. Then, Reid Howland raced down the right side before letting go of a wrist shot that beat the goaltender near side.

After both teams took a few penalties, Colin Merrill made it 4-0 on the power play at 12:40. He picked up a rebound at the edge of the right circle and fired it into the far upper corner.

Freeman completed the scoring on a breakaway at 14:13. He initially faked a slap shot, then went right and slid it back through the legs.

“I got a good pass from Sterling and I just sprung,” Freeman said. “He had me on the right side so I just threw it five hole.”

Weatherbie wound up with a goal and two assists. Freeman also had a goal and two assists.

Casco Bay’s goaltenders split duty for the shutout, with Kyle Kramlich (seven saves) playing the first two periods and William Coleman (six saves) wrapping it up.

The team from Maine turned a stingy defensive brand of hockey into an historic feat.

“I’ve been around Maine hockey for a long time and so has Dave, and I’m pretty sure this is our first National Championship,” Hart said. “It was a good ride for us. To win States, then to come here and play so well. We played our best hockey this week. During the season, it was hard. A lot of the kids play high school hockey and so they are going in different directions. But we came together this week as a team. It feels great. We had a lot of people at home watching this morning. They are pretty excited, and we can’t wait to get home.”

Story courtesy of Red Line Editorial, Inc.