RESTON, Va. -- The Oakland Junior Grizzlies, East Coast Eagles and Team South Dakota ultimately won the 16-and-Under AAA, AA and A titles Sunday at the Ashburn Ice House, but there was plenty of excitement Saturday as other teams kept their title hopes in bracket play at the Toyota-USA Hockey Tier II Youth National Championships.
Quarterfinals and semifinals in AAA and AA and semifinals in A were conducted Saturday at two Northern Virginia sites — the Ice House and the Reston SkateQuest.
In Saturday night’s AA semifinals, Michael Boyle’s unassisted goal 30 seconds into overtime lifted the Union Knights from Chandler, Ariz. to a 3-2 victory over what had been a dominant Red Bank (N.J.) Generals team.
The Generals had ripped through three pool play opponents by a total of 28-4 before edging the Affton Americans 2-1 in Saturday morning’s quarterfinals. The Knights held the Generals to just six shots each in the second and third periods of the semifinal.
“We knew we were going to have our hands full,” said Knights coach Sean Hill, who played 876 games for six National Hockey League teams. “We had guys making sacrifices, either by getting down to block shots or taking hits.”
The Delaware Ducks reached the A final by pulling out a semifinal win in overtime. Delaware overcame a two-goal deficit early in the third period, recovered from falling behind on a penalty shot in the last four minutes and then defeated the Huntsville Chargers 5-4.
Derek Golembrosky scored an unassisted short-handed goal to force a 3-3 tie in the third and then assisted on Ryan Lowe’s game-winner at 6:07 of overtime.
“You’ve got to keep their emotions in check,” Delaware coach Mike Swift said. “They had confidence in their ability and they kept grinding.”
The Red Bank Generals and Northern Virginia IceDogs went out in the AA semifinals, but their offensive prowess earlier in the tournament led to them combining for the top five scorers in the division.
Red Bank’s Evan Hoey led the way with 11 goals and seven assists. He produced the most goals and points of any of the players from the 40 teams that made up the three Tier II 16U tournaments. Hoey had 11 goals and four assists in three pool games, including four goals in Wednesday’s opening 12-2 romp over the Nashville Junior Predators and five in Friday’s 7-2 win over the Alaska Allstars.
Teammate John Monteferrante led the AA tournament in assists (11) and was third in points (14).
Grant Thompson (5-10--15), Andrew Stone (7-5--12) and Ryan Scott (5-7--12) led the NoVa Ice Dogs.
South Dakota had never produced a USA Hockey youth national championship until Team South Dakota won the 16U A title in 2012.
Team South Dakota won another one with Sunday’s 7-1 championship-game romp over Delaware.
“We have some kids who had some big brothers who were on that team,” said Jack Oberg, Team South Dakota’s leading scorer. “Some of us have teammates in varsity hockey from the team.
“We know those guys who won it. Being able to play with them and have them give us tips helped. It was insane to be able to repeat it two years later.”
There had not been any national champions from North Carolina until last year. Now there are three.
The Greensboro Stars won the Tier II 16U A title and Charlotte Junior Checkers won the Tier II 18U A last year. The East Coast Eagles won the Tier II 16U AA title Sunday.
The Oakland Junior Grizzlies and Michigan Ice Hawks split 10 meetings this season, but the Grizzlies won the last four and the most important two — for the state title and in the national quarterfinals. Mark Ritonja scored two goals when Oakland won Saturday’s game, 6-3.
The A tournament was extremely competitive before Sunday’s 7-1 final. Nine of the last 10 games prior to the final had been decided by one or two goals. Of the 14 games in pool play and the semifinals, eight were decided by one goal and three by two goals.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.