Four states compete for New England hockey bragging rights
Last weekend, the third annual New England States Rivalry Challenge hosted 120 athletes from four different states. Teams at the 2010 and 2011 birth years battled it out for state supremacy in this uniquely designed summer tournament. Schedule format was a three-game round robin, with the top two teams battling in a championship final. With that, we’ve got winners and standouts from both age groups, and who reigned supreme at last weekend’s NESRC.
New Hampshire holds claim to 2010 division
Like at last year’s tournament, when the dust settled New Hampshire was once again standing atop the 2010 division. After kicking off its schedule with a win against Maine, New Hampshire dropped a 4-3 overtime decision to Vermont. In order for any chance to contend for the title, they needed a win against Massachusetts. Cam Casey and Michael Shook propelled the team to a 3-0 shutout win. The loss was Massachusetts’ first at the tournament. Goaltender Archie Wible stopped all 33 shots he faced.
In the rematch with Massachusetts, it was once again the dynamic duo of Casey and Shook doing the heavy lifting. Shook assisted on two opening-period goals from Casey to help New Hampshire take a 3-2 lead into the intermission. In the second, Casey completed his hat trick. Massachusetts’ Michael Buscaino cut the lead to 4-3 on the power play close to four minutes later. Shortly after, Casey and Snook combined with Brayden Guerin for a goal to double the lead once more. Nicholas Cabana notched the sixth and final goal of the game to secure the victory for New Hampshire. Wible was stellar in net once again, as he finished with 27 saves on 30 shots. Casey and Shook ended up as the top two scorers in the 2010 division. Casey scored two goals and seven points. Shook managed to put home four goals and six points.
Rhys Del Giacco’s invaluable points from the blue line
After finishing as runners-up in the 2010 division last year, Vermont reached the top of the mountain at this year’s tournament among 2011 teams. Despite opening up a 2-0 lead on Massachusetts in the first game, the defense could not hold the line in the second period. The team was outscored 4-1 en route to an eventual 5-3 loss. Regrouping, Vermont won its next two round-robin games to set up a rematch with Massachusetts in the finale. Defenseman Rhys Del Giacco’s solid two-way play was a crucial part of Vermont’s strategy. He brought one goal and two assists with him into the championship game.
In the final contest, Jackson Abbott opened the scoring for Vermont at 15:34 of the first period. Just over a minute later, Patrick Taylor equalized the score. Special teams took over for the next stretch. Vermont tallied a short-handed goal and later received insurance on a power-play goal from Abbott. Taylor struck for his second goal of the game to bring the score to 3-2 late in the first period. He would end up as the leading scorer across both divisions at tournament’s end with nine goals and 11 points.
Del Giacco all but put the game away with his heroics in the second period. The smooth skating defender managed to score two short-handed goals in just over two minutes for a commanding 5-2 Vermont lead. Devon Priestley would salvage one more score for Massachusetts for a 5-3 final. Del Giacco and Abbott finished as leading scorers for Vermont, with six and five points, respectively.
Still in the young stages of its history, the New England States Rivalry Challenge is a unique summer hockey tournament experience. Players can register individually to represent their respective home states or, gather a team of friends and compete as a group. The 2023 event featured teams from Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont, but applicants from all 50 states are welcome. As long as there are enough participants to field a 15-player AAA-level roster, you’re good to go!
Want more info on next year’s NESRC and how you can represent your home state at the event? Click HERE!