SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – For top-ranked Chicago Mission, the sixth time was the charm.
Five times previously, Mission advanced to USA Hockey’s Youth Tier I 14U championship game, and all five times – in 2015, 2014, 2011, 2009 and 2008 – they watched their opponent parade the championship banner. This time, finally, the banner was theirs, thanks to a 5-2 triumph over the New Jersey Colonials.
Unfortunately for Mission, their banner parade was interrupted by a post-game power outage that left Scottsdale’s Ice Den in darkness. But it didn’t dampen the players’ enthusiasm, nor the coaches’ relief.
“This has been our goal since Day 1,” said Mission head coach Anders Sorensen. “In August, we had a meeting and we talked about it. We said we’ve got to break this curse, and this was going to be the team to do it.”
And what made this the team?
“Probably our depth on this year’s team was stronger,” said Sorensen. “We’ve always had high-end players, but this year we had greater depth.”
It was tested severely Monday. One of Mission’s top forwards, Jacob Perreault, scored the game’s opening goal at 11:06 of the first period, then exited with a shoulder injury, forcing Chicago to shorten its bench for the remainder of the game.
The Colonials eventually evened the score on a Chase Bradley goal with 58 seconds remaining in the period, but Mission regained the lead on a Jack Horbach power-play goal early in the second period. Undeterred, New Jersey’s Matt Coronato tied it 2-2 four minutes later. Then, as he has throughout the tournament, Wyatt Schingoethe grabbed the momentum for Mission.
Faced with a late-period, defensive-zone faceoff, Mission coaches called for their rim play. After a clean faceoff win, a hard rim-around from defenseman Kyle Aucoin, a slick chip from James Doyle and a nice pass from Max Itagaki, Schingoethe found himself with the puck and a glorious scoring opportunity, which he converted for the eventual game-winning goal.
“It’s one of our favorite plays,” said Schingoethe.
Now in his fifth year with Mission, the Chicago-born center knows it well.
“The boys executed it perfectly,” said Sorensen.
Schingoethe added another goal in the third period and Hunter Welcing zipped in an empty-netter to settle the final margin at three goals.
Having been part of the team that finally won the title, Schingoethe said it felt even better than expected. His coach agreed, looking very pleased and very relieved, as near as one could tell in the post-game darkness.
Then someone shined a cell phone flashlight and it picked up the gleam of a Youth Tier I 14U championship banner on its way to Mission headquarters.
It was theirs. Finally. And they were all smiles indeed.
Notes: The tournament finished with a three-way tie for the goal-scoring championship with Chase Bradley (New Jersey Colonials), Dane Dowiak (Pittsburgh Pens Elite) and Alex Gaffney (New Jersey Colonials) each posting six goals. Gaffney was the overall leader in points with 12 ... Chicago Mission goaltender Nicholas Addante led the tournament with four wins in goal.
|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|