Six New York State girls teams punched their tickets to the 2018 USA Hockey Girls National Championships. Both the Tier I and Tier II tournaments, at all three age levels, will be held next month in Marlborough, Massachusetts.
One title was decided in a 14-second span. Another needed an extra 12:15 for the outcome. A near-miracle comeback was stymied for a district championship.
As Close As It Gets
In the Tier II 16U bracket, Cazenovia and the Brewster Lady Bulldogs were as even as possible. They finished in the top two spots of the six-team round robin.
Cazenovia won the pool play game, 3-2, on a third-period goal by Jillian Hlasnick as the teams traded goals throughout.
"We almost tied it up in the last minute of play," Brewster co-coach Steve Ketchabaw said.
Both teams sailed through the rest of their games setting up the rematch for the championship, a game with many similarities — trading goals and a 3-2 final.
Hlasnick led off with a goal midway through the first. Maya Lynch-Samant tied it midway through the second. Midway through the third, Claire Tobin gave Brewster the lead.
Cazenovia wasn't done. Jillian fed a cross-ice pass to her sister, Mia Hlasnick, who put it into the back of the net with seven minutes to go. Cazenovia committed a late penalty, but was able to kill it off to send the game to overtime.
Brewster committed an early penalty in overtime, but that too went for naught, as did a later Cazenovia penalty. The teams traded excellent chances, but it took 12:15 before the game was decided.
Cazenovia failed to clear the puck and Brewster kept it in at the right point. The puck found its way to the side of the net where an initial shot was stopped. The rebound went to the right and behind the goaltender where Allison Eberhardt was perfectly placed to scoop it in.
"I saw it get deflected; I saw it bouncing," Brewster co-coach Mike Pontillo said. "I saw Ally go for it and the rest is history."
Ketchabaw said, "Both teams are very talented. Both teams have outstanding goaltending. We knew it was going to be a low-scoring game."
Pontillo added, "I'm very proud for the girls. They worked hard for this. The core group has been together for about five years, and I'm happy to see them have some success."
Maddie Boyle made 31 saves for the win.
Jillian Hlasnick led the tournament scoring with 10 goals while her sister, Mia, scored six times.
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Youth Tier I
15-Only: Buffalo Jr. Sabres
16U: Buffalo Jr. Sabres
18U: PAL Jr. Islanders
Youth Tier II
14U: Skaneateles Lakers
16U: Massena/St. Lawrence Thunder
18U: Syracuse Blazers
Girls Tier I
14U: Valley Eagles
19U: Niagara Jr. Purple Eagles
Girls Tier II
16U: Brewster Lady Bulldogs
Fourteen Seconds Decides the Contest
The Buffalo Bisons and Syracuse Valley Eagles squared off for the Tier I 14U title.
Thanks to a pair of goals 14 seconds apart in the second period, concluding three unanswered scores within 3:10, the Valley Eagles took the championship 5-3.
Buffalo led 2-1 after one on goals by Natalie O'Brien and Lyv Chambers, sandwiched around a Valley Eagles goal by Tessa Mucha.
"We knew they were going to bring a big push at the beginning, and they did," Valley Eagles coach Jay Mucha said.
Then the Eagles soared. On the power play, Maddie Savicki jammed one in through a mad scramble in the crease. Abby Holcomb received a cross-ice pass from Shea Baker and one-timed it into the near side. Fourteen seconds later, Abby Kurdziolek blasted one in from the right point, effectively ending the game.
"We knew if we just played the whole game the way we were capable of, good things would happen," Coach Mucha said. "We were waiting for that opportunity and when we were able to take advantage of those opportunities, it's beyond exciting. It gave us a boost of energy and led us forward the rest of the game."
Buffalo wasn't about to give up as Paige Gross scored at 1:57 of the third period. However, exactly two minutes later, Kurdziolek once again and made sure the game was out of reach with yet another blast from the blue line while shorthanded.
Maddy Erno got the win with 20 saves.
"The kids are thrilled," Mucha said.
Earlier that day, Valley Eagles defeated Buffalo, 3-1, in the final round-robin game. Valley Eagles went undefeated with two shutouts, scoring 33 goals in six games.
It's Not Over Till It's Over
The Tier I 19U Niagara Junior Purple Eagles appeared to be sailing along against Rochester, amassing a 4-0 lead on goals by Holly Schmelzer, Ciara Barone, Mary Kromer, and Charleigh Ronfeau.
With 10 minutes to go in the game, Maggy Burbidge broke the shutout. However, that was quickly answered with a five-on-three power-play tally by Rene Gangarosa on a slapshot from the left point.
The four-goal margin once again seemed to be enough, but not so fast.
Two minutes later, Kaitlyn Rippon scored on a slapshot from the right point. Three minutes later, Talli Warren scored with the goalie pulled, leaving 1:39 left in regulation.
Rochester incurred a penalty, their Achilles’ heel all day. All told, they committed 14 infractions and allowed four power-play goals.
This time, Rochester still had to pull their goalie just for a five-on-five situation, and managed to score when Blue Fancy put in a rebound from the left circle. Suddenly, the supposedly safe lead was down to only one goal with 56 seconds left. But Niagara held on against the final Rochester push to win 5-4.
It was quite a turnaround from the first day of the tournament when Rochester defeated Niagara, 4-0.
Rochester Takes One Title as Two North Country Teams Also Win
Rochester, a.k.a., the Selects Academy at Bishop Kearney, did win the Tier I 16U title, shutting out the Buffalo Bisons, 8-0.
In Tier II 14U, Kennedy Emerson was a scoring machine, leading the tournament with 11 tallies and leading her Norfolk/Potsdam team to the championship.
They beat the Brewster Lady Bulldogs in the final, 6-2, with Emerson scoring twice.
Canton took the Tier II 19U crown with a 5-2 win over Cazenovia, including a 41-18 shots advantage. Megan McCall scored twice.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
Tag(s): District Tourney News