The Chicago Blues defeated Dearborn Belle Tire 5-4 in double overtime at the USA Hockey Tier II 12 & Under Conference 4A National Championship title game on Sunday in Reston, Va.
Sam Craggs gave the Blues a 1-0 lead just 18 seconds into the game.
“We knew we wanted to win. We came out hard and played our game,” Craggs said.
After a few periods of back-and-forth hockey, the Blues found themselves down 4-3 in the third period. Belle Tire scored goals two minutes apart to take the lead in the third period. Blues forward Stan Jatzcak answered with a power play goal with only 4:40 left in the third period. The Blues’ lone power-play goal was enough to send the game into overtime. Belle Tire failed to convert on six power plays.
The intensity of the game did not subside in the first overtime. With a combined nine shots on goal, both teams had some great scoring chances, but defense prevailed and a second OT beckoned.
Lucas Finner’s slap shot at 5:12 of the second OT was all the Blues needed for the 5-4 victory.
“It was awesome! I was really scared at first, but I just played my game,” Finner said.
The trip to the championship was not an easy ride for the Blues. They lost their first game of the tournament to the Central Capitals, 5-2. A 7-0 win over the East Coast Wizards followed, and the Blues drubbed the Middlesex Braves 17-0 in their final game of group play.
The Blues overcame the Buffalo Bison 5-3 in the quarterfinals and topped the San Jose Jr. Sharks 4-3 in the semifinals to move into the finals.
“In the tournament, I felt like it was anybody’s game to win,” Blues assistant coach Todd Finner said “I felt like we were one of the smaller teams here and we had to rely on speed and our ability to move the puck to win. Our kids really stuck to the game plan to win. I am extremely proud of them.
“I couldn’t be prouder of what these boys have accomplished. They work really hard every week and now they have proof that it pays off.”
Many of the Blues’ players are looking forward to showing off their well-deserved gold medals.
“I can’t wait to go home and tell all my friends about the game. I am going to wear my medal to school tomorrow to show my friends,” Blues goaltender Matt Tanaka said.
Story courtesy of Red Line Editorial, Inc.
Tag(s): 12 & Under