As hosts of the 2018 Chipotle-USA Hockey Girls Nationals, the East Coast Wizards didn’t have to win their way into the tournament, but that doesn’t mean their hopes are anything less than championship-level.
The Tier I 14U Wizards bolstered those high hopes Thursday morning, breaking a 1-1 tie early in the third period en route to a 3-1 victory over Team Wisconsin in the tournament opener.
Thirteen-year-old Julia Simon scored the eventual game-winner and Riley Walsh, also 13, added an insurance goal plus a first-period assist for the Wizards. Sylvia Bojarski scored the lone goal for Team Wisconsin.
“Low-scoring games are typically what we’re involved in,” said Wizards head coach Mark Lissner. “So we just talk about making sure we get pucks to the net, and our goals today were examples of that.”
On the other end of the ice, Wizards goaltender Margaret Thompson did her part to ensure that three goals would be more than enough, making 19 saves to secure the win. Her finest efforts came during a fierce push from Team Wisconsin in the game's closing minutes, a seven-shot, traffic-filled blitz that Thompson stymied.
“I like to think that I stay pretty calm in those situations, and it’s a lot easier to stay calm when you have such a good team in front of you, helping you out, getting pucks out of the front of the net,” said Thompson, a three-sport standout in hockey, softball and volleyball.
As the final seconds drained off the clock, the Wizards celebrated a promising start to their march toward what they hope will be a second Tier I 14U national championship in three seasons.
“We’re coming in here as a host team that maybe isn’t expected to win it, but we’re going to play as hard as we can to prove people wrong and get to where we can get,” said Thompson. “I think we’re going to show people that we’re a lot more than they think we are.”
Washington Pride (Maryland) 0, Minnesota Green Giants 11 -- Led by two goals and two assists from Madison Kaiser, 13 players recorded points for Minnesota in an 11-0 win to open play at Nationals.
Philadelphia Junior Flyers 4, Detroit Little Caesars (Michigan) 2 -- The Junior Flyers rallied from a 2-1 deficit with three third-period goals, including two from Grace Dwyer, to top Little Caesars 4-2.
Anaheim Lady Ducks (California) 1, Assabet Valley (Massachusetts) 4 -- Assabet Valley jumped out to a 4-0 lead on goals from Kara Goulding, Emerson O'Leary, Jade Arnone and Sophia Ensley en route to a 4-1 win over Anaheim. Amanda Quan scored the lone goal for the Lady Ducks.