SAN JOSE, Calif. -- After skating off the ice in Buffalo with last year’s USA Hockey National Championships bronze, the Anaheim Lady Ducks 12 & Under girls' ice hockey team had only one thing on their minds -- skate off the ice at Logitech Ice Center in San Jose with gold medals at USA Hockey's 2007 National Championship.
Dylanne Crugnale’s power play goal at 3:24 of the third period snapped a 1-1 tie and powered the Lady Ducks to a 3-1 victory against Assabet Valley in Sunday’s Girls’ 12 & Under title game.
“This was our goal ever since last year,” said Anaheim coach Kathy McGarrigle. “We took the bronze last year and we wanted the gold this year.”
With nearly 70 percent of last year’s bronze medal team returning, the Lady Ducks won all six of their games this week on the way to the title. After sweeping away their three round robin opponents by a combined score of 14-2, the Pacific District champions dispatched Michigan District champion Detroit, 4-1, in the quarterfinals and blanked Central District champion Team Illinois, 2-0, in the semifinals on Saturday to advance to Sunday’s title game.
Assabet Valley, which fielded three teams in Sunday’s four championship games, won two of its three round robin games and tied the third to advance to Saturday’s quarterfinal against Pittsburgh. After dropping the Aviators, 4-1, Assabet Valley defeated Connecticut, 5-2, in the semifinals.
Sunday’s title contest started out as a tight, defensive struggle with neither team able to generate much offense.
The first good scoring chance of the game did not materialize until the 9:20 mark of the opening period, when Assabet Valley goalie Brianna Laing turned away Nicole Troung at point blank range.
Assabet Valley fired two shots on goal late in the first period, but Anaheim netminder Noelle White denied both shots.
Both goaltenders turned away the first three shots they faced in the second period and the first penalty of the game -- a cross-check on Assabet Valley’s Taylor Cross at 6:18 of the second period -- failed to produce a goal for Anaheim.
After two scoreless periods, it appeared the game could be headed for a scoreless overtime, but Anaheim’s offense finally solved Laing. Anne Pankowski sidestepped an Assabet Valley defender at the blue line and skated in alone on Laing, slipping a shot past the Assabet Valley goalie for the first score of the game at 1:39 of the third.
“We have some very talented players on this team,” McGarrigle said. “They don’t stop digging. They started taking it to the net and started shooting.”
Assabet Valley responded almost immediately, as, just 13 seconds later, Jamie Haddad crashed the Anaheim net, disrupting White and the Lady Ducks’ defense enough to allow Janelle Ferrara to pound the loose puck into the net for the tying goal.
“Once one goal went in, that seemed to open everything up,” McGarrigle said. “Of course, then Assabet came right back and tied it up, but we’ve talked with them about responding -- when you go a goal down or a team comes back and scores right after you score -- and what we were we going to do.”
Just 90 seconds later, Crugnale provided Anaheim’s response, firing a power play laser past Laing, in front of whom Anaheim had cluttered the net with plenty of traffic. The goal proved to be the eventual game-winner.
To seal USA Hockey's National Championship, Lauren Kilroy scored an insurance goal with just 2:30 remaining.
Story courtesy Red Line Editorial, Inc.