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Final goal achieved as Compuware ends with Tier I 12-U National title

By John Hakes, 04/11/10, 1:45PM MDT


On the power play, shorthanded, at even strength — Detroit Compuware scored in every situation in Sunday’s USA Hockey Tier I 12 & Under National Championship game at the Amherst Ice Center in Williamsville, N.Y.

Two of those goals belonged to Brendan Warren, who scored his team’s first and fourth goals to lead the Detroit-based squad to a 4-0 triumph over the Chicago Mission.

Compuware, which finished an unblemished 6-0 in the National Championship, outscored its opponents 44-10 during the five-day tourney and used a tenacious puck-pressure game to blank the Mission. Chicago, thanks to the stellar play of goaltender Bradley Neal (21 saves), kept things close until Brody Stevens’ unassisted marker just over a minute into the third period gave Compuware a 3-0 lead.

By the time Warren netted his second — top-shelving a perfect feed from Alex King with 6:37 left — the celebration was on among the Compuware faithful in attendance. The victory capped a season of fulfilled goals for coach Andy Copp’s troops.

“This was the first year these guys have been able to qualify for Nationals in their age group,” Copp said. “It was the top goal we had set this year. We set many goals and this is the first team I’ve ever had, that we’ve accomplished every goal we set forth.”

Given the team’s penchant for shorthanded goals — it scored four of them during the tournament — Warren’s goal in the first period wasn’t too surprising. Just moments into a Mission power play, he collected a giveaway in the high slot and sent a wrist shot past Neal for the early lead at 4:44. The Detroit forward wasn’t about to over-think the play.

“We were just keeping pressure on them, the puck came loose and I just went in and shot it,” he said. “We play in-your-face hockey the whole time, that’s what we’re trying to do and (the goal) just happened.”

Less than three minutes later Compuware doubled the lead on the power play when defenseman Jake Gingell’s offering from the left point found the net. Defensive partner Nick Boka fed Gingell, whose shot appeared to deflect off a skate in front before whizzing into the twine.

Compuware thought it had a 3-0 edge when an apparent goal beat Neal between the pads, however the goal was waved off because a Detroit player was in the crease. Neal had made a pair of big stops in the game’s opening minutes before Compuware solved him, and then made outstanding point-blank saves on Stevens and Colin Theisen in the second period.

The Mission settled into its game in the second and third periods, getting some quality chances despite Compuware’s ferocious forecheck. Even so, they found no luck beating Compuware netminder Jared Dempsey, who recorded 13 saves in the shutout.

“It’s tough to lose but we lost to a better hockey team,” Mission coach Chris Michael said. “They got off to a pretty quick start on us, and when you get behind the 8-ball like that it’s tough. But I’m proud of our guys. Any other team would’ve quit against a team like that. Our boys showed some resilience.”

Stevens’ goal, off a flurry in front of the net, gave Compuware its second man-advantage goal. It came shortly after Theisen blasted a low slapshot off the far post on a delayed penalty call. Warren’s second goal was the conversion of a tic-tac-toe passing play deep in the Mission zone.

The defeat was Chicago’s first of the week. The USA Hockey Central District champions racked up 37 goals in their six games, including victories over the Connecticut Clippers (10-1 in the quarterfinals) and Westchester Express (3-2 in the semifinals). Compuware advanced by beating the Valley Junior Warriors 6-3 on Saturday in semifinal play.

“There aren’t too many guys who can walk off the ice winning the last game of the year, especially having accomplished all the goals we set forth for our team,” Copp said.

Story courtesy of Red Line Editorial, Inc.