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Vipers Sting Raiders for a Trip to Nationals

By Darren Collette - Special to, 03/08/16, 11:30AM MST


Shutout win in final advances Florida’s Lady Vipers

CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. -- A shutout by goalie Megan McRae helped the Florida Lady Vipers 19U girls' team win the USA Hockey Southeast District Tournament Championship Sunday morning at the Florida Panthers IceDen in Coral Springs, Florida. The Lady Vipers defeated the Reston (Virginia) Raiders 2-0 in the final to earn a trip to Vermont for the Tier II Toyota USA Hockey National Championships. 

“I knew we could do it since the beginning of the season. I had no doubts and complete faith in my team,” McRae said. “I realized that it could have been my last game as a Viper, so I did everything I could out there to stop shots. I did not want it to be my last game.”

Whenever McRae’s last game is with the Vipers, she’ll have plenty more to look forward to. She will be attending Morrisville State College in New York on a hockey scholarship.

Katie Leffler scored the first goal of the game when she beat Reston's goalie stick side. She was assisted by Hunter Yoak.

“Katie got hooked a little to draw a penalty, but stayed with the play and followed through,” coach Robert Weilert said of the goal. 

Zoe Karabenick knocked in a loose puck in the crease to put the Vipers up 2-0 with five minutes left in the second period.

“It was a grinder goal," Weilert said. “Zoe was right there in front of the net, like she always is, and put the loose change in the net.”

The Vipers went 4-0-0 in the tournament with 19 total goals. The Raiders went 1-3-0 with 11 goals. Maureen Gavin and Emily Lichtenberg each scored a team-high three goals for Reston.

“They were ready for this; the moment was not too big for them. We can win a lot of ways: with our defensive, with our goal keeping and offensively when we need to. We are high-powered on both ends,” Weilert said of his team's chances going forward.

The Raiders were hampered by penalties all game. Four different players were sent to the box. One in the first, two in the second and one more in the third.

While the Lady Vipers looked dominant, they believe that they still have room for improvement in pursuit of a championship.

“We need to keep playing as a team, do what we have been doing all season and finish hard,” McRae said. “We have struggled finishing games and need to get better at that.”

The Lady Vipers will be one of 12 teams competing in group play at Nationals. The tournament will be held in Barre, Vermont from March 31 - April 4. 

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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