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Resolute Penalty Kill Leads Frisco Varsity Gold to National Title

By Jim Smith, 04/04/17, 12:30PM MDT


Special teams plays key role in dominant victory

GATES MILLS, Ohio – A trio of second-period goals, including two short-handed efforts, led Frisco (Texas) Varsity Gold to a 5-0 shutout of the Missoula Montana Bruins and the Combined Division title at the 2017 USA Hockey High School National Championships.

“I told the boys they are the most offensively explosive hockey team that I have coached in 11 years,” said Frisco head coach Ryan McLean. “We have a lot of short-handed goals this year and we’re aggressive on the [penalty kill]. It is a huge momentum swing for us and the rest of our team feeds off that.”

After a scoreless opening period, Frisco’s Julian Robidoux opened the scoring at 5:41 of the second period. Robidoux also earned a pair of assists in the championship tilt.

“Julian Robidoux and Robbie Langholff are linemates and they work so well together. They are the consistent guys who get a goal and assist every night. They are the guys we lean on a lot and those two guys are heart guys that do all the jobs,” said McLean.

Later in the middle period, Frisco was whistled for two consecutive minor penalties in a span of less than two minutes, and the Texas team responded to the short-handed situations by netting goals during each of the penalty kills.

Langholff scored the first and Jacob Plattner had the second. Plattner and Luke Lenhardt led Frisco in overall scoring in the tournament with nine points each.

“I wanted this [championship] for a while. I have gone to a couple of national championships but this was the best one by far,” stated Plattner, a senior at Independence High School in Frisco. “I just wanted to win this for my last year. I was excited and ready to play.”

“[Plattner] is another one of our speed guys that just puts the puck in the back of the net,” McLean said. “He was determined this week and what an amazing way for him to end as a senior.”

Chase Nies netted Frisco’s fourth goal with 17 seconds remaining in the second period and he also scored the team’s final goal in the third period.

Goaltender James Gillilan earned his first shutout of the tournament in the championship game, stopping each of the 27 shots he faced.

“At first, I was a little nervous, but once we got it rolling in the second, I just sat down and played my game,” said Gillilan. “My defense definitely helped early on with some of those rebounds I gave up. We worked together, came through, and started putting some pucks in the net and everything went on from there. This was a great tournament and we played some amazing teams. It was a fun time.”

Box Score

Game Highlights

On the Missoula side, there were lessons learned and memories made.

“This is our third year [with this team]. It is an incredible group of guys. It has been a real maturation process for both coaches and players and we’ve come together this year,” said Greg Robitaille, Missoula head coach. “Nothing came easy. They kept working hard and digging deeper. They really rallied around each other.”

While there is initial disappointment in a defeat, Robitaille knows the support for his team is strong.

“We have the most amazing, supportive group of parents, and I am a firm believer that it all starts with the parents. The kids feed off that. I think the kids really did appreciate the opportunity to play in a national championship and I think it is a week they will remember for the rest of their lives.”

“Today’s game was a little disappointing, but if we look back, we would say we accomplished a lot going into this tournament. We tried our hardest and went way further than any of us even expected. Spending time around Cleveland with the team built memories. It was a good way to end the season,” concluded Missoula’s John Bannon.

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