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Roster Changes Can’t Derail Bulldogs from New York District Title

By Russell Jaslow, 03/28/17, 10:30AM MDT

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After adding players from a rival, team jells en route to nationals

The concept of “team” is all about integrating a group of individuals with different backgrounds, personalities and viewpoints into one cohesive (and hopefully successful) unit.

But what happens when a team brings in players from their archrival, making even the coach's own daughter question the move? How well does that integration work out?

For the Girls Tier II 19U Brewster Lady Bulldogs, it's working out just fine. Well enough, at least, to win the USA Hockey New York District Tournament for the second year in a row. The win earned them a trip to the 2017 USA Hockey Girls Tier II National Championships, held in Troy, Michigan, scheduled for April 6-10.

"Kind of interesting, because we took four of our rivals from the Islanders and girls we've been battling for four years," Brewster coach Lou Pedatella said. "They didn't have a 19U team, so we had four of their girls move over. It made for a very, very interesting story when you play against these girls all the time and now they're teammates."

Brianna Pedatella told her father, "I'm not sure about this." Other players asked, "Coach, you really took those girls?"

But after their first tournament together back in August, a second place finish in the Wizards Summer Classic, "It was all the same team," Pedatella said. "It was great."

It wasn't completely clear sailing for the Lady Bulldogs. They competed in two more tournaments, finishing second both times. In fact, they won only two tournaments in the past two years, both of which were the state championship. This year's title nearly didn't happen.

Brewster dropped the opening game, 2-1, to Troy/Albany.
 


District Champions

Tier-I

14U: Buffalo Regals

16U: Rochester Youth Hockey

19U: Niagara Jr. Purple Eagles

Tier-II

14U: Monroe County

16U: Potsdam Icestorm

19U: Brewster Lady Bulldogs


"There [were] no cupcakes in this tournament," Pedatella said. "So, we jumped right into the fire, and we were a little off. We lost in a really heartbreaking game. We got back to the locker room, and I said, 'Well, last year you guys won five in a row. Now all you have to do is win four in a row.' They looked at me like I was crazy."

The next game was key, facing a very good Cazenovia team. Erika Dudek was outstanding, shutting them out 2-0.

Pedatella said, "She basically won us the state championship in the second game."

After a 3-1 win over CNY Bobcats, there was a three-way tie for first with only two teams moving on.

"We thought we were out," Pedatella admitted. "Cazenovia beat up on Troy/Albany and pushed them from being first place to out of the playoffs. It was a four-goal differential, and the differential was the reason we got in and why Troy/Albany was out. I think if it was a two-goal differential, we were out.

"We had to sweat it out. There [were] tears in the locker room. Then, one of my coaches handed me the phone and sure enough we were in, and they just erupted in the locker room. I knew we were going to win then."

A pair of 5-2 wins over Massena/St. Lawrence and Cazenovia gave Brewster the title.

Thirteen players returned from last year's trip to Nationals, a trip that did not go very well.

Pedatella explains, "Last year we were 0-2-1. One of the main reasons we did so poorly is our starting goaltender, Erika, was sick the whole tournament. We were chasing our tails the whole tournament."

What will be different this year besides a healthy team? 

"I think they are seasoned," Pedatella said. "I honestly think they are ready to win the whole thing. We already beat the No. 1 seed handedly."

As for who Brewster will rely on, Pedatella said, "Obviously, Hayley Lunny is our top player. She's a Providence College commit. Maddy Lyons has been a great contributor. Bella DeLuca is probably the girl, if we are going to win the national championship, we are going to have to lean on a little bit. Our defensive corps, they've just been incredible. Jordan McKernan, from the Islanders, is the other goaltender."
Most importantly, they will rely on now being a cohesive unit.

"The one thing that is great about this team, whether it's personal successes or personal issues, the kids don't care. All they care about is being family," Pedatella said.

"Right after winning the state championship, one of the girls told me, 'You know I feel great winning the championship, but I feel even better that we won it with the girls from the Islanders.' I thought it was kind of cool."

Integration complete.

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