WEST GOSHEN TOWNSHIP, Pa. — The West Chester Quakers lost Geno Romalini before the puck even dropped in the first game of the USA Hockey Atlantic District Tournament Youth Tier II 16U championship series.
Many of Romalini’s teammates visited him at a local hospital between the second and third games. Then, after the team captured a berth in the 2017 USA Hockey National Championships, April 6-10 in Frisco, Texas, in dramatic fashion, they paid him another visit to deliver his championship hat.
The Quakers needed to overcome a three-goal deficit to win in overtime to make what will be the first Nationals trip for each player on the roster.
Before preparing for their Texas trip, they had some place else to be.
“After the overtime win, they all visited the hospital to go give him his hat,” Quakers coach Rich Brown said. “The kids are that tight.”
Brown supplemented a core group that had played together last year with five new players.
“They developed real well into a tight-knit family,” he said.
Matt Owens developed into the leader of the group, including in the 5-4 overtime victory that secured the berth to Nationals.
When the Hershey Junior Bears opened a 3-0 lead midway through the deciding game, it was Owens who got the Quakers their first goal with 6:04 left in the second period.
Hershey regained its three-goal lead later in the period, but Owens picked up one of the assists on Jake Reifer’s goal to answer 21 seconds later.
Nicholas Ferraro and Tyler French scored goals in the third period, making Owens’ overtime winner possible. Ferraro also finished with two assists while French added another.
“It was just sheer determination from the captain of the team, who had double-shifted through three games,” Brown said. “He saw the opportunity and got the puck.”
When he did, Owens was off to the races with a defender in close pursuit, but was never caught.
“It was just a fantastic display of determination to go to Nationals,” Brown said.
Brady Bowman had two goals while Cade Helmer had a goal and two assists in the loss for the Junior Bears.
The game-winner was the second straight for Owens after Hershey dominated the first game, winning 4-0 with a 49-17 shot advantage.
The Quakers came back to win Game 2 by a 2-1 score.
Owens, who had an assist on the other goal, scored the game-winner on the power play with 1:16 left.
Nick Higgins also had a goal and an assist.
John Wescoe scored the first two goals and Austin Kofluk had the 17-save shutout for Hershey in the series opener.
The title was one of two by Quakers youth teams, both clinched in overtime, and one of three total for the Quakers program, which also advanced a girls team to Nationals.
That success creates a dilemma for Brown.
While Brown heads to Nationals in Texas for the first time in his 17-year coaching career, his son and daughter will be at separate sites in Michigan after qualifying with teams that he assisted while serving as head coach of the 16U boys.
“All my life, I’ve been trying to get there,” said Brown, who hopes to catch some of his kids’ games via online streaming.
Kevin Brown was the fifth-leading scorer on the 18U youth team during the regular season while Katelyn Brown was the dominant scorer on the Nationals-bound Girls Tier II 19U team.
The Quakers Youth Tier II 18U team swept the Warwick Wildcats to land its Nationals berth in Lansing, Michigan, April 6-10.
After winning the first game, 3-0, the Quakers needed two overtimes to put the series away, 3-2, on a goal by Reed Hirneisen.
“It was a bit of a busted play for them,” Quakers 18U coach Eric Wolf said. “They had gotten their best group on the ice and they tried to make a play inside the blue line. As luck had it, it squirted free to probably our best player.
“He took it in and lifted it blocker side. It was a no-doubter.”
Hirneisen had a team-high 26 goals when the Quakers were going 27-0 in the Delaware Valley Hockey League.
Dalton Hirneisen and Zackary Mullen scored 1:46 apart for a 2-0 lead just 7:01 into the series opener.
Jeff Cummings took it from there with a 26-save shutout.
“A lot of the shots came on their power play,” Wolf said. “We did a good job 5-on-5 limiting their opportunities.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
|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|