BURLINGTON, Vt. -- It was a core group of 14U girls that started playing hockey six years ago in the Anchorage Hockey Association that led the way for the Alaska North Stars this season.
The North Stars won their first two games at the Toyota-USA Hockey Girls Tier II National Championships — a decisive 7-1 victory over the Colorado Selects and 2-1 shootout thriller over the Potsdam (New York) Ice Storm.
Coach Rick Trupp used a summer dryland training regimen that included mountain hikes, roller blading, flag football, street hockey and regular plyometrics training, all of which helped with team bonding and harmony prior to the first practice in late August.
Vermont is the team’s farthest trip east to date. It traveled over 4,250 miles. Prior to nationals, the team played in the Bauer tournament in Detroit, and tournaments in Richmond, British Columbia, San Jose, California and Kenai, Alaska.
“Something clicked in January, because since the Kenai tournament, the girls have not lost a game and continue to roll on,” Trupp said. “One of their team goals is to be the hardest working team and it has paid off for us. This team loves each other and is the closest knit group that I’ve coached in a long time for a team, which makes it truly enjoyable.”
Montclair Hockey Club Brings Fans, Spirit
The Montclair Hockey Club Blues from central New Jersey squeaked by local favorite Saint Albans Saints in the first round before dropping a 4-1 decision to Casco Bay and being shut out by the Alaska North Stars in a game in which goalie Kylie Watts turned aside all 16 shots on goal that came her way.
Sally Solotaroff-Webber hung tough in net for Montclair. She stopped 35 of 40 attempts against Alaska after a 22-save performance against Casco Bay.
The Blues, coached by Tobias Schraven and assistants Kevin Skorzewski and Chris Gannon, didn’t advance out of pool play, but they appeared to be having a good time. The team was getting vocal fan support from an animated group that kept up “Let’s Go Blue!” and “Montclair Blue” chants, mixed with loud but good-spirited groans on offsides calls and near misses.
In the Casco Bay game, which produced intense up and down the ice play and crisp passing, one “near miss” occurred when Hailey Gannon fired a shot off the mask of Islander netminder Camree St. Hilaire, who made 10 out of 11 save chances. Abby Matusovich also worked the net for the winners and made 12 saves in 12 chances.
Coco Klisivitch had two goals for the Blues and saw time on the penalty kill.
East Coast Wizards Win Wild One
The Potsdam Ice Storm and the East Coast Wizards hooked up for one of the best games of the 14U tourney.
The Wizards had to kill off three first period penalties and needed a spectacular save by Daisy Boynton to rob Gabrielle Jones on a breakaway to keep the game scoreless, but Potsdam finally grabbed a 1-0 lead with 2:32 left in the period.
Claire Tyo juked past three defenders during a length of the rink rush and buried a shot through the 5-hole.
The Wizard’s Tyler Girouard turned a great hustle play into a quality shot with one second left, but Potsdam went into the locker room up 1-0.
Early in the second period, East Coast used some great work with a player down by Christina Vote to stay close and then scored a pretty goal with precise passing for 1-1 tie. Christina Klinoff connected with Vote, who sent in Sarah Coyle.
After some fast cycling, the Wizards got even more energized with Klinoff’s unassisted goal off the corner of the post. With a pair of goals within 2:17 East Coast led 2-1.
Four minutes into the third period, Potsdam answered with a rebound goal by Margaret Wilmshurst after another long rush by Tyo.
Emma Watson’s great individual effort won it for the Wizards. The Dover, New Hampshire native was first denied then kept at it and put the rebound home.
The Ice Storm’s Michelle White made 23 saves. Sarah Potter and Boynton combined for nine saves.
“These were two competitive teams,” said Potsdam coach Casey Jones. “It was a fun game to be a part of. We are a small program — no cuts — all players from within a 35-mile circle. I’m proud of all the girls. Defensemen Hannah Zanger, Rosie Jeneault, Gisele Todd and Gabrielle (Jones) have been the heart and soul of our team all season.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.