WARRENDALE, Pa. — Pittsburgh Penguins Elite made it all the way to the championship game of the national tournament as a 16U team last year.
The Penguins Elite are taking all three teams back to Chipotle-USA Hockey Girls Tier I National Championships April 5-9 in Marlborough, Massachusetts, with many of last year’s national runner-up team members now pursuing success on the 19U level.
“Our 16U last year is the good bulk of our team,” Penguins Elite 19U coach Christopher Stern said after a 3-1 victory over Culver Academy in what served as the USA Hockey Mid-American District Tournament championship game. “That experience, obviously in pressure situations, I think had a lot to do with today.”
The Penguins Elite program swept the Mid-American District Tier I championships, including the 19U tournament that was set up as a three-team, round-robin, March 9-11 at the Baierl Ice Complex.
When Penguins Elite and Culver Academy each shut out Gilmour in the first two days, they turned their already-scheduled finale into a true championship game with a berth at USA Hockey Nationals on the line.
Stern said his team at the highest age group of a program that draws interested players in from a wide area represents the entire district in more ways than as tournament champion.
“We’re truly Team Mid-Am,” Stern said. “We have girls from Columbus, girls from out east, girls from here in Pittsburgh. We have a couple young ladies that moved her from Tennessee and Alabama. We have one from St. Louis.”
Jessica Anderson had a goal and an assist to help the Penguins Elite recover from an early deficit and take a 2-1 lead midway through the second period.
After the Penguins Elite killed off a five-minute major penalty, Brooke McArdle and Emily Young teamed on an important insurance goal. McArdle got to a rebound, circled the net and set up Young in front.
The win was part of a Mid-American District Tier I sweep by the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite, who also won the 14U and 16U titles.
“We practice together all the time,” Stern said. “We do most of our practices together and we coach as a group.”
Brooke McArdle scored the first two goals and assisted on the last when Penguins Elite shut out Gilmour, 4-0, to set up its 19U title shot. Emily Young had a goal and an assist while Gwyneth Phillips made 23 saves for the shutout. Phillips had three shutouts in last year’s 16U national tournament.
Zoe Davis and Alyssa Monrean assisted each other’s goals when Culver defeated Gilmour, 3-0. McKinley Huff made 22 saves in the shutout.
Story continues below
Youth Tier I
14U: Penguins Pens Elite
15-Only: Cleveland Barons
16U: Esmark Stars
18U: Culver Academy
Youth Tier II
14U: South Hills Panthers
16U: Armstrong Arrows
18U: Mid State Mustangs
14U: Bowling Green
16U: Toledo Cherokee
18U: Sylvania Northstars
14U: Indianapolis Junior Fuel
18U: Fort Wayne Force
Girls Tier I
14U: Pittsburgh Penguins Elite
16U: Pittsburgh Penguins Elite
19U: Pittsburgh Penguins Elite
Girls Tier II
14U: Steel City Selects
16U: Steel City Selects
19U: Steel City Selects
14U TIER I
Katherine Khramtsov scored an unassisted goal with 1:01 remaining to lift Penguins Elite to a 2-1 victory over the Cleveland Lady Barons in the district championship game.
The winning goal came 1:01 after Cleveland had tied the game.
16U TIER I
The Penguins Elite team improved to 30-7-4 on the season by dominating the championship game, 7-1, over Gilmour. Lacey Eden scored twice and Kaitlyn O’Donohue had a goal and an assist when the Penguins Elite used a 25-4 shot advantage to open a 3-0 lead after one period.
O’Donohue, the leading scorer at last year’s 16U nationals, is back playing on the same level. The Penguins Elite finished with a 55-13 lead in shots.
During Mid-American District championship weekend, girls from the Steel City Selects, the host team at Baierl Ice Complex, and the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite, which hosted the Youth district championships for boys nearby at the UPMC Mario Lemieux Complex, held a bake sale at both facilities.
The bake sale was a fundraiser to benefit the families of Julianna Ward-Brown and Darian Locklear, two 16U players from the Meijer team in Michigan who died following an automobile crash earlier this year.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
Tag(s): District Tourney News