14U Power Rankings for the remaining eight teams
Craig Peterson, on-site at 14U Nationals
There’s just eight teams remaining in the hunt for the 2023 USA Hockey national championship at the 14U age group. The field is set and matchups finalized for quarterfinals. I’ve ranked all remaining teams in order of most to least likely to be crowned champion by Monday.
8. Dallas Stars Elite
They’ve actually had an impressive run at the tournament. Dallas Stars Elite finished 2-1-0 in pool play. They won on Friday against Little Caesars, 5-4 in a de facto elimination game. So in a way, DSE is already in playoff mode. J.P. Hurlbert III and Landon Amrhein are among the leading scorers in the tournament. However, it’s a really tough draw as DSE would have to beat the No. 3, No. 2 and No. 1 teams in the power rankings in order to be champ. Tough road.
7. Boston Jr. Eagles
They took care of business against the Minnesota Lakers and Valley Forge Minutemen to put themselves in playoff position. However, the Boston Jr. Eagles may struggle mightily as competition ramps up in the playoffs. Pens Elite outshot them 24-9 in a dominant 5-0 performance. My fear is that their first-round matchup with the LA Jr. Kings — and any potential future matchup — resembles opponents closer to PPE than they do Valley Forge.
6. Mount St. Charles
I actually like Mount St. Charles a lot. They’re well coached, play a responsible game and create offense as a team. Not to mention, they’ve got work-hards up front like Jameson Glance, Cole Sabourin and Dylan Dean that stand out to me. It’s just the first-round draw with Pens Elite is brutal. Plus, they’ve scored just 3.00 goals per game, which is the lowest among playoff teams. I worry there’s not enough offense to hang with some of the other contenders.
5. Bishop Kearney Selects
Here is where it gets really tough. Bishop Kearney is going to be a tough out in the playoffs. Latvia import Rudolfs Berzkalns is a talented goal scorer, and I really like the way Camden Nimmer and Dub Eunice III play as well. Not to mention, Gavin Weeks should give them a chance to win against anyone they face. However, there’s some high-powered offenses at No. 4, No. 3, No. 2 and No. 1 that I think might separate themselves a bit from BK at this stage of the tournament.
4. Los Angeles Jr. Kings
As talented as any team in the tournament. Logan Stuart led the LA Jr. Kings in scoring with three goals and seven points. Noah Davidson, Jake Brown and Tyus Sparks are noticeable standouts as well. They can get in a track meet with just about anyone. However, the Jr. Kings trailed in two of their three games in pool play and certainly flirted with fire a bit. If they have to chase offense against a team like Shattuck or PPE, it could be a real tough deficit to come back from.
3. Chicago Mission
Similar to the Jr. Kings, Chicago Mission’s lineup oozes talent. Kalder Varga may be one of the best forwards in the tournament; he is a do-it-all for Chicago who’s game carries a ton of value. Aurelio Garcia and Shaeffer Gordon-Carroll really stood out on Day 3 as major contributors as well. And that’s just scratching the surface when it comes to skaters with skill on this team. Jake Windbiel looked much better in their 2-1 win over BK as well. He’s one of the bigger goaltenders in the tournament, and when he’s on, he makes Mission tough to beat.
2. Pittsburgh Penguins Elite
Pittsburgh Penguins Elite play extremely well together as a unit. The offensive chances they create either on the rush or in-zone look effortless. Low-to-high plays, backdoor passes… all of their goals are generated from really pretty sequences. Kase Kamzik and Brody George are easy to like, as they make a lot of good things happen in all three zones. Kent Greer leads all defensemen in scoring with six points, and fellow blue-liner Brandon Vislay is a challenge for attackers to get by as well. Pens Elite are solid in all three zones, and one of the most well-rounded teams in the tournament.
1. Shattuck-St. Mary’s
They came into the tournament as the No. 1 seed, and have done nothing but take care of business in pool play. Shattuck-St. Mary’s has the most productive offense with 21 goals, and the second-best defense, allowing just five against. Tynan Lawrence, Parker Trottier, Emilio Bedoya, Zane Torre, Michael Berchild… I could go on and on. Thirteen of the 18 skaters have scored goals. They’re extremely talented, very deep, and very well coached. Not only is the skill on display, but so is the structure of their game. They came in as the favorite, and there’s no reason to think that’s changed after the first three days of the tournament.
McKinney’s hat trick secures Olympic Division for 15O Mission
Peter Rossi, on-site at 15O Nationals
In what was a meeting to determine seeding in the Olympic Division at 15O USA Hockey Nationals, Chicago Mission defeated the Long Island Gulls 4-2 off the back of a Cameron McKinney hat trick.
The Gulls opened the scoring in the first period when Dominick Oppedisano slipped home a rebound that bounced off the end boards. Just over two minutes later, McKinney tied the game with his first goal when he banged in a loose puck at the side of the net. Egan Beveridge started a rush up the ice and fed the puck to Nicholas Knutson. Knutson was then bodied off the puck, but McKinney collected it and shoved it past the outstretched pad of Ryan Cameron.
McKinney struck again close to four minutes after tying the game to put Chicago up 2-1. He skated into the Gulls defensive zone, made a great move around a defender and popped a shot into the net. Late in the first period, Luke Brierley fired a perfect wrist shot from distance that went off the post and in to increase the Mission lead to 3-1.
Teams would play an even second period, and the third would continue for much of that way. On the power play, Long Island defenseman Jared Petruso blasted a heavy one-timer from the blue line into the net to cut his team’s deficit to 3-2. With the Gulls’ goalie pulled, McKinney threw the puck down the ice into the empty net for his hat trick and to ice the game for a 4-2 final. As a result, Mission clinched the first seed in the Olympic Division, and will open elimination round play tomorrow against the second seed in the NHL Division.
Fondrk leads Mount St. Charles in vital win against Shattuck
In another contest that had seeding implications, Mount St. Charles and Shattuck-St. Mary’s battled for positioning in the NHL Division. Conrad Fondrk, who has been raising eyebrows all week at Nationals boosted his team to a lead they would never relinquish en route to a 4-1 win.
The opening frame would have no scoring, due to both teams feeling the other out. Despite two power play opportunities for SSM, Mount goaltender Samuel Doyon-Cataquiz was solid, making 11 saves. With 7:03 left in the second period, Fondrk would score his first goal of the afternoon when he settled a pass from Dylan Krayer and ripped it off the far post for a 1-0 lead. About a minute-and-a-half later and his team on the man advantage, Fondrk took a very similar shot from the right circle that once again beat Shattuck goalie Garrett Glaser to put Mount up 2-0.
With Glaser pulled with over two minutes left in regulation, Mate Tardi sent a shot into the empty net for a 3-0 lead. However, on a late power play, Aaron Obobaifo, who was the hero for Shattuck yesterday, managed to score to bring Mount’s lead to 3-1. Opting to pull the goalie once more, Shattuck was unable to net another goal and Dallas Potter collected an empty-net goal of his own for the 4-1 final. The star of the game was Doyon-Cataquiz, who ended with 31 saves.
Playoff matchups finalized
Mount St. Charles earned first seed in the NHL Division and will face off against the Los Angeles Jr. Kings. As winners of the Liberty Division, the Bishop Kearney Selects have drawn a matchup against Shattuck. Little Caesars went undefeated in pool play to top the USA Division, and will open its quarterfinal round against the Gulls. With Pittsburgh Pens Elite locking up second seed in the Olympic Division, they have earned a tilt with Mission to open its playoff round.