WEST CHESTER, Pa. -- While many of the usual powers in Atlantic district were thriving throughout the youth championship weekend at the Ice Line Quad Rinks, a new champion broke through.
The Grundy Senators, from Bristol, Pa. along the New Jersey border in the northeast suburbs of Philadelphia, captured the Tier II 16-and-Under title by beating the Quakers 5-3 Sunday in the deciding game of a best-of-three series.
“I’ve been with the Senators, my whole life, since Mites,” said Kyle McQuillan, a 16-year-old goalie from Newtown. “We’ve been to districts once and we’ve won our league once. Now, we’re the first team to win districts and the first team to go to nationals.
“We’re so blessed. I’m so happy.”
McQuillan helped the Senators qualify for the Toyota-USA Hockey Tier II Youth National Championships in Reston, Va., by making 35 saves in Sunday’s 5-3 victory.
“My guess is Kyle’s probably the smallest guy on every team’s roster, let alone being in a position of being the leader,” Senators coach Greg McDonald said. “It’s always good to have that stability back there.”
The Senators were a struggling team in November when they lost to the Quakers 10-1 in a tournament game.
“We had a dip in our season,” McDonald said. “We had some tough times.”
Grundy was fifth in the Delaware Valley Hockey League standings at the time, but it climbed up to third, then knocked off the first-place Quakers on the way to the DVHL playoff championship.
The teams continued their battles through the district tournament.
Zachary Bennett, a teammate of McQuillan’s every year since they joined the Grundy program nearly a decade ago, had his team’s first two goals on the way to a hat trick in a 6-1 victory Friday. Chris O’Donnell added two goals.
The Quakers rallied from two goals down in the final 3:44 and then won 5-4 in double overtime Saturday. Chris Rodier scored to cut the Grundy lead to one and then assisted on Kevin Cleary’s tying goal with 37.8 seconds left.
The teams remained tied until 7:02 into the second overtime when Chris Fabry scored his second goal of the game to force Game 3.
Saturday’s result made for some nervous moments when the Quakers kept pressing while down by two goals late Sunday.
“They came back [Saturday] night and then took it to us in the second overtime,” McDonald said. “There were a lot of similarities to this game.”
McQuillan helped make sure there were not too many.
“We knew that we let them take one from us [Saturday],” the goalie said. “We couldn’t let it happen again.
“We worked so hard for this.”
The Senators built their lead behind two goals by Eric Hipple, a goal and two assists by Chris O’Donnell and a goal and an assist by Nicholas Foster.
As a result, a program that was established in 2001 and has multiple teams across each age level, is in position to take on the best in the nation for the first time.
“This is good for the entire organization,” McDonald said. “Mike Sabatini is the hockey director there and Jennifer Sabatini is the president.
“They do things the right way, and it’s good to see that over time, if you do things the right way, you’ll get rewarded and you get to go to a phenomenal stage.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.