Mission Completed

Apr 5, 2022 | John Klinck

Photo courtesy of USA Hockey
Photo courtesy of USA Hockey

Chicago Organization Claims Two Titles At The 2022 USA Hockey Nationals

What. A. Finish.

The 2021-22 USA Hockey season came to a close Monday, with national championship contests playing out across the country.

Chicago Mission prevailed in the 14U and 15O groupings, while the Bishop Kearney Selects won the 16U crown. The 18U crown went to Mount St. Charles. A breakdown of each age group’s championship run.

Photo courtesy of USA Hockey

14U Division

One vs. two, just like how the rankings drew it up.

No. 1 Shattuck-St. Mary’s and No. 2 Chicago Mission had been battling for top billing all season, and when it mattered most, the boys from Chicago got it done.

Cameron McKinney scored the lone goal in the third period as Mission erased a 2-0 deficit and beat Shattuck 3-2 for the 14U Tier 1 National Championship.

“We have men in the locker room. I really believe so,” Mission coach Christian Hmura told USA Hockey after the game. “They think like men, they act like men, both physically and mentally. They understand that a game is an entire game, not just a period or a couple shifts. I just think we were on a different level from the rest of the teams here this week.”

The victory — which came on home ice in Chicago — prevented SSM from defending its 14U crown. Chicago finishes the season with a 3-1 record against Shattuck; the SSM crew only had two other losses all year.

Mission, meanwhile, finishes the year with a 70-9-3 record. They dominated the 14U national tournament, finishing with a 6-0 record. Nothing was going to stop them reaching the finals, either. They allowed only five shots by the Northeast Wisconsin Jr. Gamblers in a 4-0 win on Sunday, and none of those came in the third period.

Jacob Borzecki led Mission in scoring with eight points in six games, while McKinney had seven and Jacob Hutchen had six.

Bjorn Bronas played in all six games for the green and black, racking up a 1.66 goals-against average, a .900 save percentage and one shutout.

There were plenty of other notable performances in the 14U division. Jack Hurtagh of Bishop Kearney led the tournament with 12 points in only five games; Jr. Gamblers’ Cullen Potter had 11 and Mount St. CharlesConrad Fondrk had 10.

Shattuck’s Harrison Boettiger finished with a .936 save percentage and 1.77 goals-against average in five games. 

Photo courtesy of USA Hockey

15O Division

Just like with the 14s, Mission and Shattuck squared off in the 15-Only Tier 1 National Championship.

Same matchup, same result. The Mission 2006 squad is driving back home with the national title after a 4-1 victory over SSM.

Gustas Zemaitis scored twice, while Robert Bartell scored the go-ahead goal and Jake Merens added an empty-netter for Mission’s big win at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Mich., Monday afternoon.

Mission had 16 shots, while Shattuck had 43 – shot differential didn’t matter though, as goaltender Nicholas Kempf stymied Sabres shooters time and time again.

The boys from Chicago wrapped up a 6-0-0 run through the national tournament with the win, their second over SSM in Plymouth. 

“It’s not an easy task to beat Shattuck twice in the same tournament,” head coach of Chicago Mission Michal Pivonka told USA Hockey. “I’m so proud of my guys, we had a rough ride with them early in the season but when we beat them in the round robin, they got it, it showed that we can take them on. I told them that we’ll probably see them in the final if we make it, and that’s what happened.”

Merens, Charles Pardue and Eero Butella all tied for the team scoring lead with 10 points apiece. Kempf, who played in five of the six games for Mission, finished with a remarkable .944 save percentage, 1.20 goals-against average and one shutout. 

Shattuck’s Brodie Ziemer led the tournament in scoring with 11 points. Theo Kiss of Mount St. Charles had 10, while teammate James Hagens had nine, in only four games.

John Whipple of Shattuck led the blue liners in scoring, racking up eight points in six games.

Photo courtesy of USA Hockey

16U Division

It was an All-New York final in the 16U Tier 1 National Championship, and the Bishop Kearney Selects topped their in-state rivals the Long Island Gulls 4-1 for the ultimate bragging rights.

Jack Plandowski, Owen King and Brendan Boring scored to erase an early Gulls lead, while Paul Dalessio stopped 29 of the 30 shots sent his way in the title game, which took place in Rochester, Mich.

“I’ve never been so hype in my life,” King, the Selects’ captain, told USA Hockey. “This is just a surreal feeling, I can’t even believe it. I’m so happy for the team.”

The BK boys posted a perfect 6-0-0 record in the tournament, which included nailbiter one-goal wins over the Yale Jr. Bullodgs, Culver Academy and Chicago Mission in the semifinals. 

Christian Humphreys and Matthew Lee tied for the team lead in scoring with seven points apiece; King was one back with six.

Dalessio started four of the games for the Selects and compiled a dominating .945 save percentage and 2.00 goals-against average along the way. Counterpart Florian Wade excelled in his opportunities between the pipes, as well, as he recorded a .976 save percentage, a 0.50 goals-against average and one shutout in his two starts. 

Two Mission forwards led the tournament in scoring – James Reeder had 12 points in five games, and Noah Powell had 10. Jamison Sluys of Long Island turned in eight points.

Championship season is nearing its end, and WHH will have continued coverage of youth hockey tournaments from around the globe! Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube for the latest news, updates and more!

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