SAN JOSE, Calif. — Whenever the Alaska All-Stars took to the ice during the USA Hockey Tier II 14-and-Under girls’ national championship tournament this week — and during the season — they had the smallest roster.
Not in terms of physical size, but in the number of players.
While the opposition usually had enough players to utilize three forward and two defensive lines with a reserve netminder, Alaska All-Stars coach Dean Trboyevich fielded 11 players — 10 skaters and a goaltender.
“That’s all we have in a small market like Anchorage,” Trboyevich said. “We work with what we have.”
And the All-Stars proved that one can do more with less.
Kristen Watts provided the necessary offense with two goals, and goaltender Vandalyn Hudson stopped all 13 shots she faced in a 2-0 win over the Connecticut Ice Cats in the championship game on Sunday.
The Tier II 14U girls’ national title was the second straight won by an Alaska-based team. Last year’s Alaska Icebreakers won the crown by beating the Buffalo Regals in the championship game.
“We’re just pumped,” Trboyevich said. “I don’t even know what to say. I’m flabbergasted. I know it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Hopefully, someone else from Alaska can do it. We definitely knew we had the right team this year. We worked the crud out of them and they came through.”
Watts got the winning score with an unassisted goal at 2:24 of the first period. Watts gave Alaska an additional cushion with a tally at 4:39 that was assisted by Estee Franz.
Watts was the team’s leading scorer in three games of pool play with five goals. She also scored three goals in the two elimination games leading up to the finals.
The shutout victory was the second of the tournament for Alaska. In fact, the All-Stars never allowed more than two goals in any of their five games.
“We know we’re going to score one or two goals,” Trboyevich said. “[We had] to make sure we denied all of the shots, kept people on the perimeter and had all of the support down low in the zone. I think that’s what won it for us.”
And it was a team effort that carried Alaska through the season, the tournament and to the national championship.
“Every game, somebody else stood up when we lacked,” Trboyevich said. “When you only have 11 people, someone’s going to be hurt, someone’s not going to be as sharp as they could be. Everybody has to step up. Everybody had to contribute or we would’ve never won. I can honestly say that.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.