TROY, Mich. — The Tampa Scorpions held off a furious charge in the final minutes to beat the Affton (Mo.) Americans 2-1 on Sunday to capture the USA Hockey boys’ Tier II 16-and-Under AA national title at the Troy Sports Center in Troy, Mich.
Scorpions goaltender Trent Parker stood on his head as he turned back all but one of the 36 shots he faced, which included 14 in the third period alone. Affton out-shot Tampa by a wide margin of 36 to 21.
“It was a tough game and they put up a lot of shots,” said Parker, the big-bodied netminder. “It was not a good feeling after they tied it up, but the boys hung tough and found a way to get it done.”
Wes Schweiger’s goal with less then four minutes to play proved to be the game-winner for Tampa.
After the go-ahead goal, the final few minutes were quite frantic. Affton actually scored with just four tics on the clock, but the goal was disallowed. During the mad scramble the referee lost sight of the puck and blew the play dead before the puck crossed the goal line.
After the game, Scorpions coach Brian Lugo praised his team for its defensive effort, which included many block shots in front of Parker.
“We definitely had great goaltending and an excellent defensive effort from all the guys, along with good puck protection,” said a happy Lugo. “Not turning the puck over was also a strong key.”
Schweiger’s line of Reed Nichols and Michael DeMiceli combined to score both goals for Tampa. DeMiceli and Schweiger each had a goal and an assist while Nichols added a pair of assists.
The game was tight from the get go, with each team trying to generate some offense. The first shot by either team didn’t come until the four-minute mark, as most of the play was in the neutral zone. Tampa went on the power play early in the opening period, but Affton had the best chance shorthanded.
The Scorpions broke the scoreless tie with 9:28 to go in the first period. Schweiger, who was behind the net, found DeMiceli parked in front of the goal. DeMiceli received Schweiger’s pass and made no mistake letting the puck go with a hard wrist shot that beat goaltender Brendan Shuck glove side. The first period ended with Tampa nursing the one goal lead.
Tampa ran into some serious penalty issues in the second period as the Scorpions were called for three minors in a row that limited their offensive attack. The Scorpions weathered the storm thanks to Parker and his teammates, who put their bodies on the line for the good of the team. Affton carried the play in the second period, out-shooting Tampa 13-5 in a goalless middle frame.
The third period was more of the same as Tampa was whistled for three more infractions. While the Scorpions killed the trio of penalties, Lugo began to worry about the fatigue factor.
“Oh yeah it was a concern,” he said. “I actually started rotating three penalty killing units.”
With 9:08 left, Affton finally broke through. Curtis Schlereth beat Parker high to the glove side, following a turnover. If that wasn’t disappointing enough for the Scorpions, they were called for a bench minor for too many men. But once again Tampa came up big on the penalty kill, which set up the game-winning heroics for Schweiger.
It was a tough defeat for Affton, which beat Tampa 6-3 in the pool play.
“The puck was not going in the net for us,” said a disappointed coach Brian McGlynn. “The guys gave it all they had and I was sure proud of their effort.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.