ANCHORAGE -- It didn’t take long for Shattuck-St. Mary’s to grab the lead and fire up the crowd Monday at the Toyota-USA Hockey Youth Tier I 14U National Championships.
Grant Silianoff rushed by the defense and scored on a backhand just 35 seconds into the championship game at the Subway Sports Centre. The Minnesota prep powerhouse never surrendered the lead en route to a 3-1 victory over the Boston Junior Eagles.
“That’s kind of our mentality — we want to start the game on time, set the pace,” Shattuck coach Adam Nightingale said. “The guys have done that the whole tournament. [Silianoff’s] got a lot of speed, he’s a talented player and he was able to break in and finish it off.”
The championship win is the second in three years for Shattuck-St. Mary’s, which finishes the season with a 52-5-3 record.
With time winding down and a two-goal lead following an empty-net goal, the Shattuck players started banging on the ice rink wall with their sticks in anticipation. Once the buzzer sounded, purple and black gloves and sticks flew into the air and onto the ice as the players rushed their goalie, Derek Mullahy, behind the net.
“I can’t even put it into words right now,” said Silianoff, a forward from Edina, Minnesota. “It’s unbelievable. All the boys were just so excited. We were waiting for this all year and it finally came true.”
On Silianoff’s early goal, defenseman Drew Helleson squeezed the puck through the Junior Eagles’ defense with a perfect pass. Silianoff sped past the defenders, going left to right for the backhand goal.
“I just was in the neutral zone moving around and my defenseman Drew Helleson, he found me on a great pass,” Silianoff said. “He had a heads-up play, and I just did the rest, and I went to my backhand and it went in.
“It all started from Drew Helleson making a great pass.”
Shattuck-St. Mary’s scored again six minutes later during a 5-on-3 power play. Cam York fired in a rocket from the right circle on an assist from Niklas Norman and Helleson.
The Junior Eagles responded one minute later with a power-play goal of their own from defenseman Eamon Doheny, who navigated traffic in the left wing and connected for the goal.
Doheny’s goal was the last goal until the Shattuck-St Mary’s empty netter in the closing seconds of the game.
Solid play from both goalies highlighted the game. Mullahy of Shattuck finished with 22 saves. Boston’s Henry Wilder stopped 26 pucks.
“Our goalie definitely kept us in the game,” Silianoff said. “He made some unbelievable stops that I’ve never seen before. He kept us in the game. We gotta owe it all to him.”
The Eagles’ best chance to even the score late came with two minutes to go. Forward Liam Devlin skirted around the net and found Matt Boldy in the left wing. Boldy kept the puck moving with a pass to Jarod Harrington in the right circle, but Mullahy slid over to stop Harrington’s shot in time.
Shattuck iced the game with Robert Mastrosimone’s empty netter in the final 30 seconds.
Nightingale said his team’s depth played a key role in the championship run. His team played five games in six days.
“It is kind of a war of attrition, and it’s nice that we have depth in our lineup so we were able to maybe not play some guys as many minutes early in the tournament,” he said. “I think that helped us down the stretch.”
The championship game marked the second time the teams played this season. Previously, they battled to a 3-3 tie in a September game in Stamford, Connecticut.
“A lot of credit to the Boston Junior Eagles,” Nightingale said. “Their team played really well, and it could have went either way.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.