The Bay State Breakers erupted for three goals in the second period and made a statement about the quality of hockey in Massachusetts in the process.
The Breakers claimed the USA Hockey Tier II 14 & Under National title with an 8-0 romp over the Wisconsin Ice Spirit in the National Championship game Sunday at Suburban Ice East Lansing, Mich.
Zoe Griffin and Lily Connelly each scored twice while the Breakers built a 4-0 lead in the second period and dominated overall.
Caroline Shaunessy, Mackenzie Kent, Sarah Schwenzfeier and Katherine O’Brien also scored for Bay State, which outshot Wisconsin 26-18.
The lopsided victory reflected the south Massachusetts team’s overall supremacy during its National Championship run. Bay State outscored it opponents 18-1 in pool play with wins over Team Pittsburgh, Central Maine and the Michigan Capitals.
In the playoffs, the Breakers proved just as invincible as they cruised past the Southern Flyers 9-1 in the quarterfinals and then toppled the Niagara Junior Flyers 4-0 in the semis.
Breakers coach Scott Shaunessy credited a grueling regular season playing against the state’s top girls teams in preparing the title assault.
“It’s just a long grind, just like an NHL season,” said Shaunessy, a 10th round pick by the Quebec Nordiques in the 1983 NHL Draft who played nine years of pro hockey. “You play 50 to 60 games. There’s ups and downs. We came out at the right time and really played well.
“They worked hard all season. This is a tribute to their hard work. It is the preparation that matters.”
That preparation included playing against the likes of Tier I National runner-up Assabet Valley and state rivals East Coast Wizards, Charles River and Massachusetts Spitfires during the regular season. Bay State’s 12-U team also won the Tier II National title on Sunday.
“Massachusetts doesn’t delineate between Tier I and Tier II during the season,” Shaunessy said. “You just play. There’s so many teams and we’re all in a couple of leagues. We just play each other and it makes everyone better.”
Meredith Vlachos led the Breakers in scoring with three goals and nine assists for 12 points in six games. Vlachos was scoreless in the final, but Bay State’s Callahan Kent jumped into the breech and opened Bay State’s account with a goal with six minutes into the first period. Caroline Shaunessy’s goal at 3:41 of the second frame leveraged Bay State’s fortunes.
Despite the two-goal deficit, though, the Ice Spirit refused to capitulate until Connelly’s unassisted marker with 5:38 left in the second period settled matters.
“That third goal was really big, because they were putting some pressure on us,” Shaunessy said. “I was looking at the shots on goal and it was 18 to 15 at the time. And then we snuck that one in and that really seemed to deflate them.”
The margin of defeat didn’t sully the Ice Spirit’s myriad of accomplishments, coach Tom Hill said. In the semifinals, Wisconsin prevailed over Central Maine 2-1 in triple overtime with Stephanie Keryluk netting the game-winner.
The Central District champions from Madison, Wis., amassed a 14-game winning streak, which included winning district and state titles.
The Ice Spirit achieved national runner-up status with a balanced scoring attack that featured four players — Shelby Hill, Kristen South, Kylie Schmaltz and Mikaila Shuchuk — with five points apiece in the tournament. Marissa Wedderspoon, Emma Vincent and Sarah Grace Kuypers registered four points each.
“It was awesome for the girls,” Hill said. “We’re just a small club on the west side of Madison. For the girls to have this much success is unbelievable. It’s an experience they will never forget the rest of their lives.”
Story courtesy of Red Line Editorial, Inc.
Tag(s): 14 & Under