IRVING, Texas — Scoring was no issue for Dallas Stars Elite 14U during the 2018 USA Hockey Rocky Mountain District Tournament, as Dallas paced the event with 30 goals, including eight in Sunday’s championship final.
However, another big reason Dallas captured the Tier I 14U championship Sunday morning at Ken Hitchcock Rink is because they can also play defense.
Besides a 7-6 shootout win over the Phoenix Junior Coyotes on Friday, Dallas Stars Elite 14U allowed only three goals in its final three games of the tournament.
“Well, the main point of our pregame chat [Sunday] was that d-zone coverage and discipline wins the championship,” Dallas Stars Elite head coach Stan Tugolukov said. “When we’ve got the puck and move the puck quick, it opens a lot of options. We were solid in the d-zone. We kept most of the game disciplined penalty-wise and we capitalized on chances.”
On Sunday, Tugolukov’s team also lit the lamp frequently, finishing with eight unanswered goals in an 8-1 victory over the Colorado Thunderbirds.
Colorado took its only lead when Ryan Kelly scored his second goal of the tournament 7:44 into the game, slipping the puck inside the far post on a wraparound.
But Dallas responded in a big way. Just a minute-and-a-half after Kelly’s tally, Evan Werner, who would finish with a hat trick, scored the first of two goals in 11 seconds at 8:13 to briefly tie the game.
Bryce Howard then punctuated the opening frame with two goals of his own, the first at 14:44 when he scored at the far post off a faceoff. Howard then gave Dallas Stars Elite a 4-1 lead heading into the first intermission when he scored on a penalty shot with 22.1 seconds remaining.
Howard was on a breakaway with Colorado goaltender Erik Chaffe when he was hooked from behind. Howard beat Chaffe on a backhand to cap a period where Dallas outshot Colorado 18-4.
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Youth Tier I
14U: Dallas Stars Elite
15-Only: Phoenix Junior Coyotes
16U: Dallas Stars Elite
18U: Dallas Stars Elite
Girls Tier I
16U: Dallas Stars Elite
19U: Team Colorado
Girls Tier II
16U: Aspen Leafs
19U: Arizona Lady Coyotes
“We knew [winning the championship] wasn’t going to be easy,” Tugolukov said. “Anything can happen, that’s what happened. We responded well. A quick goal helped us to get back and then we capitalized on a few chances.”
Dallas Stars Elite also scored three times in the middle frame, including goals by Bryson Andregg at 11:09 and Copeland Fricker, who finished with four points (goal, three assists), 15 seconds later. Andregg scored on the power play by collecting his own rebound and knocking it in.
Werner tied with Hayden Cox, who had a hat trick of his own on Friday, for the 14U tournament lead with seven points. Werner clinched his hat trick at 12:15 of the second when he beat Steven Savage, who replaced Chaffe in the Colorado net following Andregg’s goal, top shelf on a quick wrist shot from the slot.
In the third period, Dallas Stars Elite tacked on another goal when Ben Flett scored his second of the tournament from the left point with 4:48 remaining.
Eleven players scored for Dallas Stars Elite in the tournament, balanced scoring their coach is happy to have.
“I believe I was blessed to have the talent in that 2003 group,” Tugolukov said. “We’ve got players who enjoy making plays. They can score, they take pride doing that. There is nothing wrong with that. I’m happy that we have those offensive tools out there, enough to score some goals. It’s good.”
Dallas also got strong goaltending on Sunday from Alexander Opalacz, who stopped 10 of 11 shots to earn his second win of the tournament.
Opalacz, who allowed just one goal in his 102 minutes between the pipes, led the 14U division in wins, goals-against-average (0.47) and save percentage (.944).
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.