Making it through the district tournament to qualify for nationals often means avoiding even a single loss.
The New Jersey Colonials took things a step further while winning the Atlantic District 14-and-Under girls’ titles in both Tier I and Tier II.
The two 14-year-old teams, who were among five district champions from the Colonials program, rolled through Atlantic District tournament play without allowing a single goal.
“We run the same style of forecheck; the same style of defense,” said Dave Grippo, the head coach of the Tier I team that practices once a week with the Tier II team.
Don Gould is the head coach of the Tier II team and usually is also on the bench with the Tier I team as an assistant whenever possible. The combined efforts of the two teams allowed the Colonials to dominate the Mid Atlantic Women’s Hockey Association on the 14-year-old level.
The Colonials have also been exposed to some of the best teams in the United States and Canada in the tournament circuit. That helps the preparation for USA Hockey National Championships in San Jose, Calif., in April.
“It’s been a really good season,” Grippo said. “We try to play the best competition outside of the Atlantic District that we can.”
The Tier I Colonials have shown in the past that they can be a threat on the national level.
“Two years ago, these same ‘98s played in nationals in Detroit and finished second, losing to Assabet in the finals,” Grippo said. “The core of this year’s group was on that team.
“They lost their first game, then kept winning to get to the final.”
The Colonials have done their share of winning this season.
While winning the MAWHA 14-U Tier I title, the Colonials were 10-0-2 and outscored opponents 49-8.
The Atlantic District title was decided in a best-of-three series against the Princeton Tiger Lilies. The Colonials, who are based in Morris Township and Bridgewater, rolled to 7-0 and 9-0 victories.
Erin Dillon and Emma Polaski each had a hat trick and an assist in the first win. Dillon had two goals while Polaski had a goal and two assists in the second.
On a balanced team — the top nine players finished with between five and three goals in MAWHA action — Dillon and Polaski have been the top scorers, according to Grippo.
“We get contributions from every single girl on that bench,” Grippo said.
Skylar Podvey and Alexis Grippo, who joined Allie Olnowich and Madeline Fouts on the defensive unit that did not allow a goal, were also part of the scoring attack.
Podvey had a goal and three assists in the first win. Grippo had two goals and two assists while Podvey had two goals and one assist in the second.
Abbie Ives stopped all 19 shots she faced in the two games.
“Abbie Ives has just been a phenomenal goaltender,” Grippo said. “She’s very consistent.”
The 14-U Tier II team was even more dominant in MAWHA play, winning all 13 regular-season games by a combined margin of 112-6.
Mariella Catalano averaged two goals per game in league play.
During the round-robin event that decided the Tier II title, the Colonials defeated the Quakers, 2-0; Hershey, 7-0; and the Quarry Cats, 8-0.
Abigail Levy was in goal for all three games.
Grace Schreiber and Jordan Pirrello had the goals against the Quakers breaking through during a game in which the Colonials posted a 22-3 shot advantage.
Catalano scored twice and Levy made 11 saves against Hershey. Danielle Felicoli and Willa King added a goal and an assist each.
King, who added an assist, and Schreiber scored two goals each against the Quarry Cats.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.