Bracketology

May 1, 2021 | Craig Peterson

A player from the North Jersey avalanche celebrates after scoring a goal at the 2021 USA Hockey Nationals

Survive and Advance Through USAH Nationals

Pool play at the 2021 USA Hockey Nationals concluded on Friday evening. A field that began with 16 teams at each age group on Wednesday has been whittled down to just eight. The top two teams from each of the four pools proceed to the elimination rounds slated to begin on Saturday morning and we’ve got complete bracketology of the remaining teams at the 14U, 15O and 16U Tier-I tournaments.

14U USA Hockey Nationals Tier-I Bracket of Eight

It’s Shattuck-St. Mary’s and then everyone else. Basically how it’s been all season long, as the Sabres lost just one game in their 47-game slate. Shattuck continued to dominate through pool play, going 3-0 and compiling a plus-25 goal differential. We wrote on Tuesday that this ‘06 squad may very well be the pound-for-pound best youth hockey team in the world this season, and there’s no reason to think any different after pool play. 

Mount St. Charles could slow them down a touch in the semifinals with a choppy, grind ‘em out type of game. However, there’s no stopping Shattuck’s top line of Cole Eiserman, Mack Celebrini and Brodie Ziemer, as they’ve combined for 12 goals in the tournament. Bishop Kearney may be able to trade offensive blows with SSM, but getting to that title game will certainly be an uphill climb, with a major challenge in the semifinals.

15O USA Hockey Nationals Tier-I Bracket of Eight

As assured as the 14s seem, the 15s are equally unpredictable. Both championship picks above could easily be eliminated in the first round. Similarly, CYA and Compuware might just as well make championship runs of their own. Mission has been the top team all season long, so it’s another chalky pick to the final. They’ve beaten every team on their side of the bracket but an all-Chicago semifinal would provide for some fantastic cross-town drama.

On the other side, Mid-Fairfield continues to be white hot. A balanced offensive attack of 1a and 1b forward lines, plus good depth players up front, and the Jr. Rangers overwhelm opponents with a relentless wave after wave of pressure. Brian Nicholas, Logan Renkowski, Salvatore Guzzo and Aram Minnetian are at the forefront of a team that’s playing the right way at the right time, destined for a championship.

16U USA Hockey Nationals Tier-I Bracket of Eight

Lots of big names and high-profile teams in the 16U tournament of eight. Division-I commits… USHL Draft picks… there’s no shortage of star power here.

The Oakland Jr. Grizzlies were nearly left out of Nationals completely, if not for an improbable run to earn an automatic bid into the tournament. That momentum continued into pool play this week, as they went 3-0 against three opponents that all ranked higher than OJG at the beginning of the event. They can’t be counted out anymore and after that impressive showing in pool play, should be considered a strong Cinderella story candidate. The Jr. Grizzlies won’t razzle dazzle or mesmerize opponents, but the group wins by being responsible defensively and capitalizing on its opportunities. They’ve won seven straight one-goal games as a team that refuses to go away.

As great of a run as OJG is on, expect the winner of the 16U tournament to come from the opposite half of the bracket. North Jersey is the pick here, as Mick Thompson and Quentin Musty have put together big performances alongside the Avs’ top star Nicholas Moldenhauer.  However, Bishop Kearney and HoneyBaked are both just as charged up with top-end kids playing at their best. Andrew Delladonna has a goal in every game of the tournament for BK, and HB has had 12 different players record a point.

Want more from the world of youth hockey? We’ll be all over the action from USA Hockey Nationals on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.

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