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Dallas Stars Elite 18U Shine in Rocky Mountain Districts

By Michael Hicks - Special to, 03/15/16, 9:45AM MDT


Dallas scored four third-period goals to win the district title.

WESTMINSTER, Colo. -- The blue-collar Dallas Stars Elite 18U, behind four third-period goals, rallied from an early deficit at Ice Centre at the Promenade for a 5-1 victory and a second straight trip to the Toyota-USA Hockey National Championships.

Lema Muradov scored the first of his two goals late in the second period to knot the score at 1-1, and Mason Martin added an empty-netter in the closing seconds of the third.

“We’re not the prettiest bunch of hockey players,” coach Adam Robbins said. “We’ve got some skill guys, some guys that can put the puck in the net. But one thing I can say about this team, when the game is on the line and when it matters, we’re playing tough.”

Arizona Junior Coyotes beat the Stars 4-3 back in September and only lost by a 6-4 score in the preliminary rounds.

“You can’t take a team lightly,” forward James DiStefano said. “We came in here focused and tried to beat one team at a time.”

The Stars Elite were 4-0 in the three-day tournament, scoring 22 goals in the process.

Double Trouble: Siblings Shine on Thunderbirds

It’s not all that uncommon for Dominic and Lucas Sandoval to play a trick or two on a friend. After all, the 14-year-old Chaparral High School (Parker, Colo.) freshmen are twins.

They’re also a pair of offensive threats — Dominic as a left winger; Lucas a center — for the Colorado Thunderbirds’ 14U squad. Teammates since they were 5, the Sandovals first got involved in hockey through their half-brother, Christopher, an inline hockey player.

“We used to learn ice skating up and down our driveway,” Lucas said. “We started playing inline hockey, and then we moved to ice.”

That’s proven to be a wise move based on the success the Thunderbirds enjoyed at districts, where the team outscored the competition 15-2, including three shutouts, on its way to nationals. They defeated the Dallas Stars Elite 1-0 in the championship game.

So is there a sibling rivalry?

“No,” said Dominic, who along with Lucas and two teammates — Brady Berlin and Killian Kiecker-Olson — shared the team lead with two goals each in the four-game tournament. “We just work together with everything. We’re just really god together, but there is always competition to see who is better.”

Hockey Takes Him Places

For Arizona Junior Coyotes forward Brett Dillon, the Rocky Mountain District Championships presented a homecoming of sorts. The 18-year-old was born in Montrose, Colorado. But make note, he’s lived in Arizona the majority of his life, and hockey has been a big part of that life.

“Personally, for me, there’s nothing like hockey out there in the world,” Dillon said. “The competition level, the guys. You meet the greatest people through hockey. I cherish every moment of it.”

A student at Mountain Ridge High School in Glendale, Arizona, Dillon is making the most of his moments, as well. Already being considered for Junior A camps in Canada, he tallied four assists in leading the Coyotes to a runner-up finish in the 18U division. Such performances have scouts eyeing him, a thought that didn’t become a reality until a few years ago.

“As a little kid you don’t really think about it as a career,” Dillon said. “You love the game and you want to play with your friends. As you get older it becomes a lot more serious. You’ve got scouts coming to talk with you. It’s actually a whirlwind.”

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

2016 USA Hockey Rocky Mountain District Tournament Champions

Youth Tier I

14U: Colorado Thunderbirds

16U: Colorado Thunderbirds

18U: Dallas Stars Elite

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