AMHERST, N.Y. — Although the Maine Moose had already defeated the Gulf Coast Flames 4-1 in pool play this weekend, they knew not to take any team lightly. But in the 2A championship game of the Chipotle-USA Hockey Youth Tier II 14U Nationals Monday morning, the Moose once again came away victorious, this time with a 4-0 win.
“They earned their way here just like we did,” said Maine forward Trevor Ouelette. “We had a good hard battle, but we came out on top because I think we wanted it more.”
“We knew they were ranked high,” said Maine head coach Bill Desmarais. “They’re a great team. They work hard. We knew we had to jump on them early, and that was the difference for us. When we score first, we’re a whole different team. Taking the lead early, making them fight from behind was our goal right from the start. And staying out of the penalty box.”
The previous matchup did help Maine know what to expect in the finals. The Moose knew which players and plays to watch for.
“They love working the puck behind the net and then pushing it out front,” said Maine goalie Josh Girard. “I just took that into this game and used it.”
Girard made 24 saves for the shutout in Maine’s national championship victory.
“It’s a way to top it off,” Girard said. “It’s another thing to add to the accolades list. It’s great.”
“Josh has been awesome all weekend,” said Desmarais. “He won four of the five games for us. Let up three goals. Two shutouts. National finals, he pitches a shutout. I can’t ask for more out of my goalie than that.”
The offense did its job as well. Ouellette scored twice and added an assist for the Moose. Gabe Poirier had a goal and an assist, and Isaac Grondin scored once.
Ouellette scored the final two goals of the game, including an empty netter with 1:17 remaining in regulation for a 4-0 lead that all but finished the game.
“That closed the game,” Ouellette said. “That was our insurance. No way we were losing after that.”
“Trevor’s one of my hardest workers,” said Desmarais. “He’s a big strong kid. When he goes, it’s hard to stop him. He’ll run right through somebody. He’ll just keep going.”
Desmarais was just as proud of the rest of his team as he was of Girard and Ouellette. It took a full team effort, he said, and every player on the team did what was expected and needed.
“Everyone has a role, and that’s what it was,” Desmarais said. “Just because you’re on the first, second, third line — it doesn’t matter to me. I expect certain guys to score and I expect certain guys to keep the puck out of the net. This game, everyone did their role and everyone did their job. It was a team effort.”
Now the Moose take a national championship home to Maine, and they’ll be the first 14U team to do so.
“It’s amazing,” Desmarais said. “I had that one monkey on my back back in my organization because I hadn’t won one yet, so now the pressure’s off. We’re the first team in Maine to ever win a 14U national title, so it’s an amazing feeling.”
“It’s a great feeling,” Girard said. “It truly is. I love the group of boys that I won it with, too.”
“Best feeling in the world, baby!” Ouellette said.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.