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Winterhawks Finish Off Dominant Nationals Performance

By Scott Alan Salomon, 04/10/17, 11:00AM MDT


Suffering only one loss in the tournament, Portland pulls away in Tier II 14U 1A title game

Final 1 2 3 T
Portland Junior Winterhawks 1 3 2 6
Montana Thunderblades 2 0 0 2
/ Florida Panthers Iceden / MEZZ

CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. -- The Portland Junior Winterhawks defeated the Montana Thunderblades 6-2 Monday morning to win the 1A division title at the 2017 USA Hockey Youth Tier II 14U National Championships.

“We played quite well today and I have to give my team all the credit in the world,” said Portland coach Craig Kreklywich. “We played hard and aggressive and never gave up and played until the final buzzer.”

Montana came out of the box first and scored on a wrister right in front of the goal mouth by Isaac Braaten. Braaten took the puck and circled the crease before rifling a shot in the left-hand corner of the net.

Portland struck back a few minutes later on a goal from the point by Karsen Dorwart. Dorwart won the puck off of a draw and fired it into the back of the net.

“I just took the shot and it went in the net,” Dorwart said after the match. “I let it go and hoped that it would go in and it did.”

Montana took a 2-1 lead towards the end of the first period as Roger Weisennberger scored off a loose puck rebound.

Gareth Cooper scored a short-handed goal for Portland at the 14:32 mark of the second period to tie things up at 2.  He took the puck at the blue line and won the one-on-one battle with goaltender Reigan Picicci. It was the second short-handed goal for the Winterhawks.

“We played well on special teams today, both on the penalty kill and when we were short-handed,” Kreklywich said. “We had guys in the right spot at the right time and we did very well.’

Portland scored on a power-play goal by Colin Beilstein nearly three minutes later to take a 3-2 lead. Beilstein intercepted the puck at the blue line and skated in to the crease and fired a shot past the goalie.

The Winterhawks scored again as Julian Leonhardt put the puck in the net to make the score 4-2. He went top shelf with the puck and it had a lot of speed on it to beat the netminder.

Portland added two more goals in the third to put the game away.

It was clear that Montana was going to have to contend with some firepower going into the title game. To that point, four Portland players were tied for second-most goals in the tournament. Beilstein, Dorwar, Gareth Cooper and Tyler Hanson all had five goals. Dorwart also was leading the tournament in assists with six.

The win capped off a mostly dominant performance at nationals by the Junior Winterhawks. The title game was a rematch of the tournament opener, an 8-3 Portland victory. They followed that up with a 6-0 shutout of Team Wyoming.

Their next game was their only loss of the tournament, a 6-4 setback to the Nevada Storm. Their semifinal contest was a close one as they were tied through two periods against the Tulsa Jr. Oilers 14U Tier II. Three third-period goals sent Portland through to the title game.

As a team, the Winterhawks led the national tournament in goals with 31. They surrendered just 15. Cooper finished as the team’s goal-scoring leader with 8.

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