The Nevada Junior Storm capped off a prolific tournament in their typical high-scoring fashion by posting an 11-3 victory over the Portland Junior Hawks on Sunday at the Ice Vault in Wayne, N.J. The Las Vegas-based Storm claimed the 1A Conference crown at the USA Hockey Tier II 14 & Under National Championship by hitting double digits in each of the seven games they played — and won — this week.
Gage Quinney led the Storm with five goals and three assists in the title tilt, and posted season-worthy totals in just seven tournament outings by collecting 22 goals and 25 assists for 47 points. Hamilton Whyte had three goals and three assists against Portland, and finished with 21 goals and 21 assists overall. Beau McCue recorded 13 goals and 16 assists in seven games, including a goal and three assists in the final, and scored the final goal in the Storm’s eye-popping 88-goal output that began back on Wednesday with an incredible 25-goal outburst in their opener.
The Junior Hawks, though, actually trailed Nevada by just a 2-1 margin late in the first period, before the Storm reeled off seven straight scores to put the game out of reach. Sunday’s contest actually marked the closest margin of victory for the Storm all week, as they won each of their other six games by at least nine goals.
Trevor Shott had two of Portland’s three goals, while Johnny James notched the other. Chris Pritchard and Noah Rosenberg combined for 38 stops in goal for the Junior Hawks.
Nevada coach Eldon “Pokey” Reddick, who played 19 years of professional hockey as a goaltender himself, including 132 NHL games, took over the Storm at mid-season and helped guide them to this year’s National pinnacle.
“They needed some structure,” Reddick said. “They’re pretty talented, and five of them or so will probably play Triple-A next season.
“Everyone fell into place,” he continued. “They knew their roles, and they came to play.”
So did Portland.
“Our kids came a long way,” coach Bruce Pritchard said. “They worked extremely hard, and I’m so proud.”
The Junior Hawks went 5-0 and allowed just 12 goals before meeting Nevada.
“No one expected us to be here,” Pritchard added. “We turned things around early and won a lot of games.”
The Storm pushed the play all game, hanging on to the puck in the offensive zone to set up shots, while also making quick transitions from their own end to initiate odd-man rushes and breakaways that often resulted in goals.
“Our strength is our forwards, and we want to move the puck up to them as quickly as we can,” said Reddick, whose goaltender, Josh Friedenberger, was actually a Pee Wee who played up one level. Friedenberger made 27 saves in the clinching victory.
“They’re a good group of kids, including outside of hockey,” Reddick said of his team as a whole. “That makes this more special.”
“Nevada is a very good team,” Pritchard said. “They outplayed us a bit, but we gave it everything we had.”
Pritchard was still pleased with his team’s season.
“You always have high expectations and lofty goals, but no one thinks about going to Nationals,” Pritchard said. “This tops it off for us, with all the hard work the kids put in.”
“Portland played us pretty well for half a game,” Reddick said. “We adjusted well.”
Story courtesy of Red Line Editorial, Inc.
Tag(s): 14 & Under