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Little Capitals 14U Squad Uses Late Heroics to Earn Trip to Nationals

By Skip Vaughn, 03/21/17, 10:30AM MDT


Caps complete late-game comeback in overtime

Thirty-eight seconds.

That’s all it took for the 14U Washington Little Capitals to punch their ticket to the 2017 USA Hockey Youth Tier I National Championships in Scottsdale, Arizona.

The Little Caps beat the Thunder 3-2 on Brandon Davis’ goal 18 seconds into overtime in the 14U final at the USA Hockey Tier I Southeastern District Tournament on March 19. They had tied the score on Tyler Mercier’s goal with 20 seconds remaining in regulation. Add those final 20 seconds onto the first 18 of overtime and you’ve got 38 season-defining seconds.

Davis, who turned 15 on March 4, has been playing hockey since he was 7. He said he’s won “just a few tournaments … [but this one means] more than anything because I got to help my team go to Nationals this year.”

The scoreboard clock showed 15:42 when he delivered in front of the Thunder net.

“Puck was loose right at the bottom of the circle,” said Davis, a right wing. “I got it, took a quick shot and it went short side. Then all the boys came to me and we celly'ed hard. We’re going to natties.”

And what did it take to get there?

“Hard work, dedication and brotherhood,” Davis answered. He’s been with the Little Caps, based in Arlington, Virginia, for four years.

All four Little Caps teams reached the Southeastern finals, a first for the club, which is a USA Hockey Model Association. Dan Jablonic serves as the hockey director and assisted 18U coach Lyon Messier, son of Hockey Hall of Famer Mark Messier.

“We’re extremely proud of our players and coaches in our organization,” Jablonic said. “They’ve worked very hard all season long to get rewarded to represent our area.

“We got unbelievable goaltending from Lincoln Crosby. He kept us in the game. The other team was dominating a good portion of the game, but we battled back.”

The Little Caps opened the tournament March 17 with a 3-1 loss to the Thunder, based in Decatur, Alabama. Tyler Mercier scored their lone goal in the loss.

“It was a good hockey game. Both teams played really hard,” Jablonic said. “Hats off [to the Thunder]. They played a really good team hockey game.”

Lacey Eden scored a goal in the Little Caps’ 5-0 bounce-back win over Team Maryland later that day. Their other goals came from John Sterling, Adam Martin, Alex Vouras and Parker Cole. Crosby made eight saves for the shutout. Maryland’s Christopher Jackson made 25 saves.

In the championship, Crosby was solid again, allowing no goals in the first. The Little Caps’ John Sterling then beat Thunder goalie Alec DeVries 4:23 into the second period for a 1-0 lead.

But the Thunder responded at 12:03 on Josh Silverman’s goal with an assist from Will Holland. The score was tied 1-1 after two periods.

Garrett Connor put the Thunder up 2-1 at 11:24 in the third with a power-play goal, assisted by Aidan Flynn. This set the stage for the Little Caps’ late heroics.

Tyler Mercier knotted the score at 2-2, sending the game into overtime on his goal in the closing seconds with an assist from Brad Freyberger. Freyberger and fellow defenseman Bauer Morrissey were also key players for the Little Caps throughout the tournament. It was Davis who then delivered the magic in the ensuing overtime.

The four finals made it an all-around good weekend for the Little Caps. The 15-year-old team beat the Junior Hurricanes 4-2, the 16U Little Caps lost to the Tampa Scorpions 5-2 and the 18U Little Caps lost to the Scorpions 5-4 in the second overtime.

In the 15-year-old final, the Little Caps’ Owen Morgan scored two goals while Michael Kramer and Reid Leibold added one apiece as they became the other Washington squad to book a trip to nationals.

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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2017 USA Hockey National Championship Sites

Division Location Host Dates
Youth Tier I (14U) Scottsdale, Arizona Arizona Amateur Hockey April 6-10, 2017
Youth Tier I (15-year-olds only) Scottsdale, Arizona Arizona Amateur Hockey April 6-10, 2017
Youth Tier I (16U, 18U) Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Pittsburgh Penguins Elite April 6-10, 2017
Girls Tier I Rochester/Macomb, Michigan HoneyBaked Hockey Club April 6-10, 2017
Women's A, B, C Rochester/Macomb, Michigan HoneyBaked Hockey Club April 6-9, 2017
High School Cleveland, Ohio Cleveland Suburban Hockey March 22-26, 2017
Girls Tier II Troy, Michigan Troy Youth Hockey Association April 6-10, 2017
Youth Tier II (14U) Coral Springs, Florida Florida Panthers Ice Den April 6-10, 2017
Youth Tier II (16U) Frisco, Texas Texas Amateur Hockey April 6-10, 2017
Youth Tier II (18U) Lansing, Michigan Lansing Hockey Club April 6-10, 2017
Sled San Jose, California Sharks Ice April 6-9, 2017
Adult Rec Men's Wesley Chapel, Florida Florida Hospital Center Ice April 20-23, 2017
Adult Rec Women's Ellenton, Florida Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex April 27-30, 2017