PROVO, Utah — The losing teams might not feel the same way, but for a tournament director like TC Lewis, the Rocky Mountain District championship games produced “dream” results.
One game went overtime, another very well could have. And at Peaks Ice Arena, which was a venue used for some Olympic competitions in 2002, the beauty of it all was that the game-winning goals were both produced out of good plays.
No question marks about power plays, controversial calls or no-calls: just good plays.
In the 16-and-Under Tier I final, Ryan Heidrick scored the game-winner in overtime off two crisp passes. That gave Dallas Stars Elite of Texas a 2-1 win against the Colorado Thunderbirds.
“You like good goals like that,” Lewis said. “No penalties or power-play kills happening. It was just good passing, nice shot. That makes you feel good when you head back home after a tournament. I know I was really pleased.”
The 16-U title game logged Sunday about 45 minutes south of Salt Lake City, nestled near the Brigham Young University campus, was the most balanced championship game, for sure.
“I just thought our guys executed the game play,” Dallas coach Eric Silverman said. “Typically, overtime goals are kind of bouncy pucks at the net. It was a pretty clean play. We had numbers [4-on-3] and Ryan made a nice move on the goalie. But I wouldn't say that kind of way to win was how I envisioned it happening.”
There were eight goal stats recorded (3 goals, 5 assists, including a couple of second passes) and only Dallas' Maxim Letunov was mentioned twice, with the game-opening goal in the first period and a second assist on the game-winner.
The tournament featured high-level teams from seven states. The champions will go on to the USA Hockey National Championships, where they’ll face the revered creme de la creme from states like Michigan and New York.
In the 14-U title game, the Colorado Thunderbirds defeated the Arizona Bobcats, 4-3.
The Colorado squad had to overcome a 3-1 deficit, despite scoring the first goal just over three minutes in when Max Gerlach found the net.
Gerlach, who had four goals and four assists in five games, also tied the score at three early in the third period. Keegan Mantaro won it late in the third period after a quick race up the ice.
Phillip Knies scored two goals and added an assist for Arizona.
The 14-U National Championships will be held in early April in Pittsburgh. Silverman notes that his team fell one game shy last year, and he returns two players amid a talented roster that want to be a little better.
“We play in a national league and we've seen teams from Detroit, Chicago and Boston,” Silverman said. “So it's not going to be a new thing. But obviously Texas is catching up. We've shown we can compete.”
The Thunderbirds of Colorado — a team coached by former NHL player Adam Foote — scored the winner with 36 seconds left, defeating Arizona, 2-1.
Matthew Meier was behind the net when he dished a sweet pass to Garrett Cologne, who streaked toward the goal and one-timed his shot.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.