EAST LANSING, Mich. -- The Maine Moose are national champions.
Facing off against the New Hampshire Avalanche in the 2A Division of the USA Hockey Youth Tier II 18U National Championships, Tanner McClure recorded the game-winning goal with 8:53 left in the game to seal a 3-2 victory.
After a pass from the left circle by Jeromey Rancourt was deflected by an Avalanche defender, McClure grabbed the puck and found the back of the net to regain the lead that the Moose would never relinquish.
“We were here last year,” head coach Jeff Ross said. “We lost in the semis. Some of these kids were here last year and won it at the [16U] level, so they got a lot of history with it, a lot of experience and it’s definitely more fun to finish this way than last year at the [18U] level. It’s been a great week, great teams and the kids getting to spend time together, and you get kids that are focused that are here for hockey, so it’s been fun.”
Both teams recorded 28 saves in the contest.
Moose netminder Derek Fournier was an instrumental part of the win as he finished the day with 26 saves and made key saves down the stretch for Maine.
“Coming into this weekend, we knew that we were going to have some tough games and we ended up showing up and playing our best and ended up winning it all,” forward Tyler Wheeler said.
After the game was scoreless at the end of the first frame, the Moose came out strong in the second period.
On a power play after the Avalanche's Colin Tracy was called for kneeing late in the first period, the Moose capitalized on the man advantage with a goal by defenseman Gavin Bates 42 seconds into the second frame.
The goal by Bates gave the Moose the first goal of the game and a 1-0 lead.
The Avalanche tied the game nine minutes into the second frame.
A pass from Tyler Chipman from the left circle to Armando Roberto IV set up the tying score as Roberto IV’s wrist shot sailed by the pads of Derek Fournier.
The Moose retook the lead 1:18 into the third period as Rancourt scored on the penalty kill to give the Moose a 2-1 lead.
The Avalanche responded once more to tie the game, but with 8:53 left in regulation, Tanner McClure registered the game-winning goal for Maine.
“Coming into the season, I knew that we were going to be extremely good. We have a good group of kids and they played together for many, many years. We all know each other and I knew we had something special after we won our first game,” Wheeler said.
With the goalie pulled with one-minute remaining, the Moose had a chance for an empty netter, but the shot sailed high.
With just seconds left in the game and the Avalanche with a man advantage, New Hampshire had an excellent opportunity to force overtime, but Fournier came away with huge saves to preserve a Moose victory.
“Especially when they pulled their goalie, there was a mad scramble going on, but luckily we had the all-star goalie in net for us, Derek Fournier, to make that Grade A save at the last couple seconds,” Wheeler said.
Coach Ross said he believes winning a national championship makes all the work put in throughout the season and offseason worth it.
“We get great kids on this team,” Ross said. “We got great depth on this team. We had a real successful season. We went undefeated in the main league to win the [state championship] and then they leave for high school and they come back together and these kids were motivated. It just makes all the work worthwhile for them.”
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|