WATERBURY, Vt. — In New England, many hockey players play a split season in which they sandwich a high school season in the middle of a club season.
For most of the Tier II 16-and-Under youth teams, the high school season was all wrapped up by the time they arrived at the Northford Ice Pavilion in Connecticut for the Connecticut state tournament.
For the Southern Connecticut Stars, a blend of high school players, many players had to rejoin forces with players they had been playing against throughout the high school season.
It didn’t seem to matter.
The Connecticut Southern Stars capped off a 29-1-3 season by winning the Connecticut state tournament championship game 4-1 over Darien in a hard fought battle at the Northford Ice Pavilion. The win sends the Stars to Troy, Mich. for the USA Hockey National Championships.
The Stars are ranked No. 4 in the country by My Hockey Rankings.
The nucleus of the team, which is coached by Erick Roos and Rick Beckwith, also previously represented New England at the Tier II 14U national championships. They made it to the semifinals where they came up short in overtime. Key additions have been made.
Casco Bay Mariners feature top Maine high schoolers
The Casco Bay Mariners, Maine’s U16 Tier II champions, are familiar with high championship as well. Many of the Mariners skate for either Falmouth, the Class A champion, or the Greely Rangers, the Class B champions from Cumberland Center, Maine.
The Mariners went undefeated in the fall and defeated Biddeford to qualify for the USA Hockey National Championships, which will take place April 3-7 in Troy, Mich.
The Mariners practice together when possible with the 18U team. They feature two accomplished goalies, Jason Blier, from Cheverus High School in Brunswick, and Kyle Kramlich, who authored a 17-save shutout in the state finals for Greely.
“Everybody plays,” says coach Ed Harding. “We’re very even. We have a good balance offensively and defensively. We’re a bit limited for practice time, but we’ll put some time in on the power play and our short-handed set, play hard and have a good time.”
East Eagles Represent New Hampshire
At the Tier II 16U level in New Hampshire, the New Hampshire East Eagles will represent their state at the USA Hockey National Championships in Troy.
The Eagles, champions of the Granite State League, have a 17-man roster. They lost only one game during the regular season.
“Both of our goalies, Tom Beliveau and Kyle Farmer, are sophomores and they split time evenly,” coach Matt Reilly said. “We carry five defensemen who are coached by assistant coach Steve Stoddard.
“We’re very solid at forwards — real deep,” Reilly added. “Chandler Ashburner [of the Berwick Academy Bulldogs] is our best playmaker. Jimmy Perry of Timberlane High School is our top goal-scorer.
“Everybody plays on the power play,” he continued. “We have two groups that play shorthanded. It’s nice to have the kids go to Michigan. They’ll have a great experience.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
Youth Tier I
16U: Connecticut Wolfpack
Youth Tier II
16U: Connecticut: Southern Connecticut Stars
16U: Maine: Casco Bay Mariners
16U: New Hampshire: New Hampshire East Eagles
16U: Rhode Island: Rhode Island Hitmen
18U: Connecticut: Wonderland Wizards
18U: Connecticut: Avon (host)
18U: Maine: Casco Bay Mariners
18U: New Hampshire: New Hampshire East
18U: Rhode Island: Providence Junior Bears
Girls Tier II
14U: Connecticut Ice Cats
16U: Vermont Shamrocks
19U: Portland Junior Pirates