Minnesota, Massachusetts the first districts to issue automatic bids
It may only be November, but a few teams can already start making travel arrangements for the 2023 USA Hockey National Championships in April.
Massachusetts crowned its 15O, 16U and 18U Tier-I state champions this past weekend. They join Minnesota as two hockey powerhouses that award national bids well before the other 11 districts in the country.
15O River Rats Are Nationals Bound
The Neponset Valley River Rats captured the 15O title in the Massachusetts Hockey State Championships after entering the weekend tournament the No. 2 seed. They and the No. 1 seed Boston Jr. Eagles had byes into the quarterfinals, which meant avoiding a Friday contest before a jam-packed weekend.
The River Rats took care of business in the quarters, beating Patriot Hockey 7-1. Four players — Joseph Marchi, Jake Assad, Thomas Anderson and Anderson Kilbourne — found the back of the net in the first period alone. That allowed Neponset Valley to quickly assume control of the contest and coasted into the semifinals.
There, things were tighter. The Cape Cod Whalers had the score tied 2-2 in the third period, thanks to a pair of goals from Giacomo Caliri. The River Rats’ Collin Rowe, however, scored two goals in the contest as well, and his second strike broke the 2-2 tie. Michael Munroe finished things off with a late one to give Neponset Valley a 4-2 win.
In the final, it was smoother skating, as the River Rats took down Militia Hockey 5-1, with five different players scoring for the champs.
Top 2007 Performers In Massachusetts
Despite having one game less than most of his peers, Munroe led the weekend in scoring, as he tallied two goals and seven points in three games. Anderson and Marchi both had four points in total.
Alfred Farese, meanwhile, took care of the goaltending duties for the River Rats all weekend. In his three games, he allowed only four goals, which gave him a 1.33 goals-against average in the state playoffs.
The biggest upset of the tournament came by way of the 95 Giants, who ended the Boston Jr. Eagles’ weekend plans rather abruptly. The Jr. Eagles were ranked No. 10 in the country and the top seed in the Massachusetts tournament entering the weekend. However, they fell to the Giants in a 1-0 defensive battle in Saturday’s quarterfinals.
Joseph Andreozzi scored the only goal of the contest, and it came at the 15:31 mark of the middle period. The Jr. Eagles sent 34 shots towards Giants’ netminder Angelo Evangelista, and he stopped every single one of them. Militia Hockey ended the Cinderella story the next day, however, beating the Giants 3-2 in the semifinals.
16U Little Bruins Win Big At Districts
At the 16U level, the Boston Little Bruins will be representing Massachusetts at nationals after using their No. 1 seed to march through states.
They faced their fare share of challenges in the weekend, starting with a high-scoring Saturday afternoon battle with Boston Hockey Academy. The Bruins needed five, and got six to beat Boston Hockey Academy 6-4 in the quarterfinals. Second-period goals from Grayson Cohen and Jackson Delleo proved to be the difference in the contest. Boston Hockey Academy’s Tyler Kirchner had two goals and an assist, while Gryphon Watson-Bucci had four assists, but their herculean efforts weren’t enough for an upset.
In the semifinals, the Bruins had a much easier time, as first-period goals from Cameron Cooke, Alex Gomes and Joseph Mense put them on the path to an easy 5-1 win over the Valley Jr. Warriors.
It looked like it was going to be more smooth sailing in the championship game, but the Boston Jr. Eagles made things interesting in the final frame. The Bruins scored five goals through the first two periods, but the Jr. Eagles’ Edward Mutryn registered a natural hat trick in the third to make it a nail-biting 5-4 final for the Little Bruins.
Balanced scoring carried the Bruins to the state title, as Delleo led the way with five points, while Gomes and Dennis Davidson had four. Sixteen different Bruins found the scoresheet over the course of the three games.
Jr. Eagles Punch Ticket to 18U Nationals
At the 18U level, the Boston Jr. Eagles captured the state title, prevailing over the Cape Cod Whalers 3-2 in the final.
Much like the 16U champs, the Jr. Eagles scored by committee en route to their nationals bid, as four players — Jake McManus, Sean Leetch, Cullen Emery and Jonathan Lanza — all led the team in scoring with three points apiece.
Paul Dalessio played all three games between the pipes to pick up three wins and a 1.44 goals-against average in the process.
Shattuck set to represent Minnesota District
Massachusetts isn’t the only major hockey market to be finalizing national bids this early in the season. Minnesota does the same, with the 14U, 15O, 16U and 18U representatives already decided.
Shattuck-St. Mary’s will represent Minnesota at all of the aforementioned age groups, after the 14U, 15O and 16U teams won their Minnesota District titles in the Minnesota High Performance postseason.
At the 14U level, SSM defeated the Polars of District 5 by a 4-0 final. Tynan Lawrence had two goals for SSM, including the empty-netter to wrap things up. Xavier Wendt stopped 18 shots between the pipes for the shutout win.
In 15O play, Shattuck topped the Blue Ox by a final score of 7-1. Alex Donovan registered two goals and an assist, while Andrei Nabokov posted one goal and one assist. Additionally, Grayson Hanggi stopped 20 of 21 shots sent his way.
The 16U SSM squad wrapped things up with a dominating 11-3 win over the Blue Ox.
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