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Belle Tire takes home championship

By John Raffel, 04/04/07, 5:00PM MDT


FRASER, Mich. -- Two second-period goals were all the scoring Belle Tire of Detroit, Mich., would need to defeat Shattuck-St. Mary's of Minnesota, 2-1, Sunday in USA Hockey's Tier I 16 & Under National Championship game.

Jordan Miller and Tyler Brown scored goals for Belle Tire, the host team, in the one-goal victory at Great Lakes Sports City. Goalie Joe Rogers made 22 saves in the winning effort.

"It's incredible. I can't really explain it," Rogers said after the win. "We maintained our defensive zone today. Our defense did a good job of clearing out our zone. That helped me see the shots."

Shattuck-St. Mary's goaltender Kevin Murdock made 17 saves, and his teammates finished with a 23-19 shots advantage.

"At this time, it's hard to be satisfied, but I'm proud of our kids," said Shattuck-St. Mary's head coach Rod Collins said afterward.  "We made it to the finals and my kids gave everything. I couldn't have asked for more."

Belle Tire ended the weekend at 6-0 and completed their season with a 61-7-6 record in 2006-07.

Trailing, 1-0, after the first period, Belle Tire struck for two goals within 1:35 to take a 2-1 advantage in the second period. Jordan Miller scored the first goal when Murdock wasn't able to cover a loose puck, and Zach Golembiewski and Beau Schmitz picked up assists on the goal.

The next goal, with 3:09 to play, came on a shot by Tyler Brown, who was assisted by Mac Olson.

Shattuck-St. Mary's scored the only goal in the first period when Jack Nicoll scored with six minutes left, assisted by Brad Roggins and Salvatore Alfieri.

"We made an adjustment," said Belle Tire coach Kyle Krug. "They were coming out of the middle of the ice too easily at us. We went to a 1-2-2 forecheck and that helped us. After that first goal, we got some good momentum. I told the guys if we score, then we could get another one. That's what happened."

"I knew what I had to do to hold [Shattuck-St. Mary's]," Rogers said. "That's a good team. I knew it would be a tough game."

Collins, too, was ready to compliment the opponent.

"Belle Tire is a very good hockey team," Collins said. "We couldn't penetrate their defense. Belle Tire had a home-ice advantage, but it was the same sized surface for both teams," Collins said. "They were very strong defensively. In the third period, we had chances. But we couldn't convert. That happens."

Krug praised his goalie.

"We rode him here to Nationals," said Krug, who had been with a Honeybaked team that won a USA Hockey National Championship in 2003. "His focus and determination are second to none."

Rogers, for his part, was happy he didn't have to travel too far for Nationals.

On having the title game on Belle Tire's home rink, said Rogers, "It was great to have it here. We've done well here all year, and we get great support from our friends and family from the area."

"Being in our own locker room and having a skate sharpener here, it's just nice to be at home," Krug said.

"We thought this team had a good chance as we came into the season," continued Krug. "Especially when we added four [1990-born players] to the team," he said. "Coming out of our league, the Midwest Elite Hockey League, which I think is the best in the country, we did well enough to give me confidence that this team could do well."

Story courtesy Red Line Editorial, Inc.