The Sioux Falls Stampede, in just its fourth year, is sending all three of its teams to the Chipotle-USA Hockey Tier I Youth Nationals as the Northern Plains District representative.
Sioux Falls beat Team North Dakota in championship series on the 16U and 14U level with relative ease, but has certainly been putting together credentials as an 18U team.
The Stampede tuned up for the 18U national tournament in West Chester, near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, April 5-10 by going to Minnesota and sweeping a two-game series from the Shattuck-St. Mary’s Prep team that has won nine national championships since 1999.
General manager Matt Tobin sees a healthy program as the 16Us also prepare to depart for the Philadelphia area and the 14U team heads for its national tournament in Charlotte, North Carolina.
“Across our program, we have seven [North American Hockey League] tenders. That’s a record for us,” Tobin said. “Across all three teams, the profile of our program has continued to grow.”
Both the 18U and 16U teams spent their first season as members of the North American Prospects Hockey League.
“At various times, both teams were in first place,” Tobin said. “We didn’t win, but both contended.”
The 18U team, which is 43-14-0 overall, went 16-2-0 in the NAPHL regular season, falling one point short of the best overall record in the 19-team league.
John Jaworski, from Grinnell, Iowa, and Brandon Connett, from Baldwin, Wisconsin, share the team lead with 54 points. Nicholas Simsir, from Haddonfield, New Jersey, averaged more than a point per game in the NAPHL and has 52 points. Maurice Newman, from Easton, Maryland, has 50 points for the balanced attack that has four more players with at least 40 points.
Grant Boldt was third in the NAPHL with a 1.20 goals against average while Dysen Skinner was ninth at 1.75.
The 16U team’s goalies put up similar numbers in the NAPHL.
Austin Cooley was fifth in the league with a 1.25 GAA and tied for third with a .940 save percentage.
Hobie Hedquist, a 2003 birthyear goalie from Heron Lake, Minnesota, is already committed to play NCAA Division I hockey at Colorado College. He had a 1.85 GAA in the NAPHL.
The Stampede went 13-3-1 in the league under head coach Noelle Needham, who played Division I women’s hockey at Minnesota State-Mankato.
Brett Reed shared the league scoring lead with 16 goals and 12 assists in 17 games. His 57 points overall leads the team by six over Tyler Zahradka.
Sioux Falls (29-24-2 overall) earned the district’s 16U berth by sweeping Team North Dakota, 5-1 and 4-1, March 9-10 in Fargo.
The Stampede 14U won its district title a week later by also going to Fargo to sweep a scheduled best-of-three series. Sioux Falls never trailed in the series, but needed overtime in both games for a 3-2, 5-4 sweep.
Jake Vockler, the team’s season scoring leader, had four goals in the series, including both game-winners. Vockler has 35 goals and 29 assists in 30 games. Andrew King adds 47 points and defenseman Easton Zueger has 44.
The team takes a 25-25-3-7 record to North Carolina.
Tobin said all three teams share a common trait.
“Being hard on pucks, competing for space and battling, really throughout our program, those are things we not only talk about and take pride in, but we practice,” he said. “We try to elevate the pace and the competitiveness in our practices and talk about how hard we play.
“… Work ethic is a hallmark of our teams. We forecheck well. We’re able to create some turnovers.”
The Northern Plains will be represented in Tier II nationals by the Bozeman Icedogs and Team Wyoming in 16U and Team South Dakota, Team North Dakota and the Wyoming Wolverines in 14U.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.