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Jr. Grizzlies Gold Lock Down for a Title

By Sean Shapiro, 04/10/17, 5:00PM MDT


Cliché rings true, defense won championship

Final 1 2 3 T
Chicago Blues 0 0 0 0
Oakland Jr. Grizzlies Gold 0 1 2 3
/ Dr Pepper StarCenter - Frisco / Arena

FRISCO, Texas -- It wasn’t a dog pile, it was a Grizzly pile.

As the final buzzer went off at the 2017 USA Hockey Youth Tier II 16U National Championships, the Oakland Jr. Grizzlies Gold team swarmed goalie Alexander Lopez closing out a hockey-filled weekend in North Texas with a 3-0 win against the Chicago Blues in the 3A Division championship game.

“From the start of last year, this was what they set out to do,” coach Jason Selleke said. “This really was a great group and they were hoping to finish the season this way. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”

The championship game was a dominant effort by Oakland as they outshot Chicago 36-17, and the defensive structure made it somewhat easy for Lopez to post his 17-save shutout.

“They really committed to that and making sure we did the right things in our own end,” Selleke said. “I think a lot of times teams and kids can get wrapped up in offense, but they really were strong defensively and that made the difference.”

It was a common theme as Oakland only allowed six goals in the tournament and posted a pair of shutouts.

In the championship game, Anthony Cinato opened the scoring 39 seconds into the second period on a power play goal to give the Oakland Jr. Grizzlies a 1-0 lead. Dylan Krawiec then scored at 2:52 of the period to give his team a 2-0 cushion.

The Jr. Grizzlies continued to pressure, but couldn’t score their third goal until the 3:38 mark of the third period when Krawiec scored his second goal of the night to make it a 3-0 game.

In spite of his team’s loss, Chicago goalie David Trapani was one of the stars of the game and turned away 33 of 36 shots in the championship game.

The championship turned into a meeting between two well-rounded teams that had impressed during pool play and in the elimination games.

The Blues scored at least four goals in each of their first five games and reached the championship game with an 8-1 victory against the Armstrong Arrows.

With that track record, a shutout was even more impressive for the Jr. Grizzlies.

“We knew what they could do, we’d watched them a little bit,” Selleke said. “We didn’t talk about it too much. But the kids knew that defense was going to be the difference. I’ve coached these guys for two years and they’ve always been ready to work and play great defense.”

Oakland reached the championship game with a pair of one-goal victories in the quarterfinals and semifinals. In the quarterfinals, the Jr. Grizzlies defeated Team Wisconsin 3-2 and then dispatched the Foothills Flyers by the same score in the semifinal.

“Those one goal games really help,” Selleke said. “Once again, they worked hard for this.”

So the Grizzly pile at the end was well worth it.

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