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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It’s On To The Elimination Rounds At The 2022 USA Hockey Nationals

Just like that, the preliminary rounds have concluded for USA Hockey’s 14U, 15-Only and 16U Tier-I National Championships. Let’s take a look at the remaining teams and Saturday’s match-ups for what will be a thrilling end to the youth hockey season in the U.S.

14U Division

The projected quarterfinal matchups are as follows:

Pittsburgh Penguins Elite vs. Shattuck-St. Mary’s
Bishop Kearney Selects vs. Mount St. Charles
Northeast Wisconsin Jr. Gamblers vs. Mid-Fairfield Jr. Rangers
Dallas Stars Elite vs. Chicago Mission

No. 1-ranked Shattuck is on a mission to defend its national title, and they were perfect in the preliminary round after a 7-3 win over the Nashville Jr. Predators, a 3-2 win over the Jr. Gamblers and 3-0 win over the L.A. Jr. Kings. The Penguins beat Team North Dakota 12-2 and Compuware 10-4 but lost to Mid-Fairfield 7-3 on Friday. 

Mount St. Charles took the top spot in the Liberty Division with wins over the Philadelphia Flyers and Dallas Stars but a loss to Little Caesars. Bishop Kearney, meanwhile, checks in as the No. 2 seed in the NHL Division after wins over the Boston Jr. Eagles and California Golden Bears but a loss to Mission. 

Mid-Fairfield was perfect in preliminary play after a 3-0 win over Compuware, a 4-3 win over North Dakota and a 7-3 win over the Penguins. The Gamblers, meanwhile, took care of the L.A. Jr. Kings and Nashville Jr. Predators but dropped their contest against Shattuck.

Mission has been thriving on home ice, with a 5-2 win over the California Golden Bears, a 2-1 win over the Boston Jr. Eagles and a 6-2 win over Bishop Kearney to give them a perfect 3-0 record. Dallas, meanwhile, emerges as the No. 2 seed from a Liberty Division that had three 2-1 teams – Mount St. Charles finished in the top spot, Dallas got the second, and Little Caesars did not advance.

Five players are tied for the scoring lead with eight points apiece – Pittsburgh’s Quinn McKenzie, Bishop Kearney’s Cooper Dennis, Mount St. Charles’ Conrad Fondrk, NEW Jr. Gamblers’ Cullen Potter and Pittsburgh’s John Mooney.

Bjorn Bronas has started all three games for Mission, and he has a .918 save percentage and 1.65 goals-against average. Micah Adams started all three games for Dallas, and he holds a .910 save percentage and 2.00 goals-against average. 

15O Division

Let’s take a look at the quarterfinals for the 15O group:

Shattuck-St. Mary’s vs. Mount St. Charles
Bishop Kearney Selects vs. Little Caesars
Windy City Storm vs. Chicago Mission
Dallas Stars Elite vs. St. Louis AAA Blues

Talk about starting the elimination round with a bang. That’s a No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown in the very first quarterfinal tilt, with No. 1 Mount St. Charles squaring off with No. 2 Shattuck-St. Mary’s. The M’s played to a perfect 3-0 record in the preliminary round, starting with a 12-4 win over the Sioux Falls Power before beating the Windy City Storm 7-2 and Team Alaska 6-3. They emerge as the top seed out of the USA Division. Shattuck, meanwhile, exits the Olympic Division as the No. 2 seed, after finishing the round robin with a 2-1 record. Chicago Mission gave them a 6-3 loss Friday.

With that win, Mission – ranked No. 4 in the country – has a date with an in-state rival in the No. 7-ranked Windy City Storm. Mission posted a 4-0 blanking of the North Jersey Avalanche and an 8-2 win over the Minuteman Flames to dominate the Olympic Division; Windy City’s lone loss came to Mount St. Charles. They’re the No. 2 seed coming out of the USA Division.

Another top-five showdown will take place between No. 3 Little Caesars and No. 5 Bishop Kearney. Caesars led the Liberty Division with a 2-1 record – wins over the Dallas Stars Elite and the Nashville Jr. Predators but a blemish from a 5-4 overtime loss to the Cleveland Barons. The BK Selects finished No. 2 in the NHL Division, with wins over the L.A. Jr. Kings and St. Louis Blues, and a loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite.

The final quarterfinal pits the Blues and the Dallas Stars. As noted above, Dallas’ lone loss came to Little Caesars, giving them the No. 2 spot in the Liberty Division. Meanwhile, the Blues finished in the top spot in the NHL Division; they had a loss but they won the tie-breaker with Bishop Kearney to earn the No. 1 seed. 

Mount St. Charles players have dominated the scoring race, as Theo Kiss checks in at No. 1 with nine points, Joseph Monteiro is second with eight and James Hagens is right behind with seven. Shattuck’s Brodie Ziemer has eight points and John Galanek has seven. Evan Sofikitis of Little Caesars and John Whipple of Shattuck tie for the blueliner scoring lead, both at six points apiece.

Nashville netminder Calvin Gardner started all three games for the Jr. Preds and finished with a .912 save percentage and 1.94 goals-against average. Shattuck’s William Lubimov has two shutouts already. Connor Addington of the Dallas Stars has a .974 save percentage and 0.48 goals-against average in two games. 

16U Division

Here’s who we’ve got in the 16U quarterfinals:

Shattuck-St. Mary’s vs. Long Island Gulls
Yale Jr. Bulldogs vs. North Jersey Avalanche
Chicago Mission vs. New Jersey Rockets
Culver Academy vs. Bishop Kearney Selects

Just like in the 15s, a No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown kicks off the elimination rounds. Shattuck, ranked No. 1 in the country, checks in as the No. 2 seed in the Olympic Division after they lost to the New Jersey Rockets 6-3 on Friday and had two one-goal games in their victories. The Gulls, meanwhile, are the top seed in the USA Division after posting a 4-2 win over Sioux Falls Power, a 2-1 win over Pittsburgh Penguins Elite and a 3-1 win over Chicago Mission

The North Jersey Avalanche enter the postseason with the top spot in the Liberty Division, despite a 6-2 loss to Florida Alliance in between a pair of one-goal wins against Culver Academy and Compuware. The Bulldogs, meanwhile, won a three-way tiebreaker with the Arizona Jr. Coyotes and Boston Jr. Eagles for the No. 2 seed in the NHL Division after all three finished with 1-2 records.

The New Jersey Rockets finished with a 3-0 record in the Olympic Division, claiming the top seed and a date with Chicago Mission. Aside from the aforementioned win over Shattuck, the Rockets also took down the Anaheim Jr. Ducks and Mount St. Charles. Mission, meanwhile, had wins over Pittsburgh Penguins Elite and Sioux Falls Power but a loss to the Gulls.

Bishop Kearney posted a 2-1 win over the Yale Jr. Bulldogs, a 3-0 win over the Jr. Coyotes and a 6-2 win over the Boston Jr. Eagles en route to the No. 1 seed in the NHL Division. They will take on Culver Academy, which lost to North Jersey to start but rebounded with a 4-1 win over Compuware and 2-1 win over Florida Alliance.

There’s a five-way tie for the scoring lead at 16U – Mission’s James Reeder, Compuware’s Jaden Johnson, New Jersey’s Kamil Bednarik, Anaheim’s Ty Henricks and New Jersey’s Matthew Desiderio all finished preliminary round with six points apiece. 

Bishop Kearney’s Paul Dalessio has a .957 save percentage and 1.44 goals-against average in two games; Yale’s Aiden Hopewell has the same goals-against with a .947 save percentage in the same amount of crease time.

Want more coverage of the 2022 USA Hockey Nationals? Follow WHH on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube for continuing news on the top performers, advancing teams and eventual champions of the 16U, 15O and 14U tournaments!

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CSSHL Crowns Western League Champions

The Canadian Sport School Hockey League (CSSHL) is Western Canada’s premier youth hockey league. It’s where countless Western Hockey League (WHL) and NCAA prospects develop before being drafted and making college commitments. With 26 schools and academies across eight Canadian provinces, the CSSHL is one of the most premier leagues in all of youth hockey.

Western championships concluded over the weekend, as a group of teams emerged victorious out of a deep field of talent. Action included a total of 94 teams skating across eight divisions, and only a few could be named top dogs of the 2021-22 season.

U15 Prep Western Champions: Edge School

The U15 groups featured a pair of firsts for the growing league. Delta Hockey Academy won its first-ever U15 Prep Western Championship with their 7-3 win over RINK Hockey Academy Kelowna on March 15.

Damian Kravcak posted a hat trick and an assist for Delta in the championship tilt, while teammate Chase Harrington logged two goals and four assists when it mattered most. Goaltender Armaan Kaila stopped 40 of the 43 shots sent his way.

The victory wrapped up a perfect 5-0 playoff performance for Delta; they beat Burnaby Winter Club 5-1, Pacific Coast Academy 1-0, RINK Winnipeg 4-1 and Edge School 5-4 before taking on RINK Kelowna in the title bout.

The leading scorers in the U15 Prep division didn’t reach the final. Noah Kosick of Pacific Coast Hockey Academy had a whopping 96 total points in 29 games, while Cole Reschny of Northern Alberta Xtreme had 92 in only 25 games. Graham Jones of RINK Winnipeg had 81 to round out the top three.

Reese Hamilton of NAX led all defensemen in scoring over the course of the season, racking up 54 points in 27 games. 

Ryan Grout of NAX led in all of the major goaltending categories, turning in a 17-0-0 record, a 1.53 goals-against average, .938 save percentage and four shutouts on the season.

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U16 Prep Western Champions: Northern Alberta Xtreme

For the third time in a row, Northern Alberta Xtreme captured the U16 Prep Western Championship.

This time around, they took down Edge School 7-2 in the final, thanks in large part to a two-goal, one-assist effort from Brock Souch and a one-goal, three-assist outing from Owen Berge.

Spencer Michnik stopped 27 of the 29 shots sent his way, which helped NAX keep the league’s two leading scorers – Terik Parascak (98 points in 34 games) and Miles Cooper (82 points in 33 games) to one assist total.

Berge led NAX in scoring over the course of the season, tying for third in the CSSHL with Ty Gordon of OHA Edmonton at 63 points total.

Hyde Davidson of NAX led all defensemen in league scoring with 36 points in 34 games.

Michnik registered some of the best numbers for goaltenders in the U16 age group, as he finished with a 15-3-0 record, a 1.58 goals-against average, a .925 save percentage and four shutouts.

NAX was impressive from start to finish in the postseason. They first beat Pacific Coast Academy 6-1 before topping Burnaby Winter Club 5-3, RINK Winnipeg 7-2 and RINK Kelowna 7-3 before the final showdown with Edge.

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U17 Prep Western Champions: Delta Hockey Academy

Delta Hockey Academy turned in a dominating performance in the U17 Prep Western Championship, beating St. George’s School by a score of 9-3.

Dominating is a good way to describe Delta’s sprint through the playoffs; the title game was the first postseason outing where they didn’t break double digits. Delta beat International 17-2, Okanagan White 17-3, Pilot Mound 10-3 and Okanagan Black 13-2 before seeing St. George’s in the final.

Miguel Marques registered two goals and two assists for Delta in the final. Those totals shouldn’t be a surprise; Marques led the league in scoring with a remarkable 116 points in 31 games. 

Delta’s Jordan Gavin was just behind his teammate in league scoring, checking in at No. 2 with 105 points in 28 games. In fact, Delta forwards held the top three spots in the scoring race, as Tomas Mrsic had 98 points in 28 games. 

Colton Roberts, meanwhile, had nine goals and 36 assists for 45 points in 31 games to lead all defensemen in scoring for Delta.

Delta’s goaltenders dominated the stats page, too. Noah Stenvig, who recorded 12 saves on 15 shots in the final, finished with a 2.32 goals-against average on the season. The only goaltender with a better mark there was teammate Darian Moberly, who had a 2.05 goals-against. The duo had only two regulation losses between them in the 2021-22 campaign.

The only goaltender to have a better save percentage than the Delta boys was Gabe Bergeron of Edge – he had a .921 save percentage, along with a 14-3-0 record, a 2.54 goals-against average and two shutouts.

U18 Prep Western Champions: BWC Academy

BWC Academy captured their first CSSHL U18 Prep Western Championship on March 20, beating Edge School in the final by a score of 6-3.

The win capped a perfect 5-0 run through the postseason for BWC.

In the final, the club demonstrated balanced scoring, as six different players found the back of the net. Charlie Tritt stopped 30 of the 33 shots sent his way to pick up the win between the pipes.

Luca Primerano led BWC in scoring with 58 points in 35 games over the course of the 2021-22 season. 

It’s championship season across the world of youth hockey! From CSSHL championships to USA Hockey Nationals, Russia and Sweden national tournaments and more, WHH has got you covered on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube!

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The State of Hockey Crowns A Pair Of State Champions

There’s one high school hockey tournament that captures the world’s attention.

You know the one.

The 2022 Minnesota State High School Hockey Tournament played out in front of packed crowds at the Minnesota Wild’s Xcel Energy Center, with Hermantown High School capturing the 1A title and Andover High School capturing the 2A title.

The two schools earned state-wide bragging rights on March 12, with Hermantown taking on Warroad High School at noon, and Andover battling Maple Grove High School at 7 p.m.

Schools in Minnesota are split into two divisions — 1A and 2A, as noted above — based upon enrollment and geography, as determined by the Minnesota State High School League. 

Plante Leads Hermantown

Every two years, they re-adjust their classifications to maximize competitive balance.

Junior forward Zam Plante — ranked No. 40 among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting heading into this summer’s NHL Draft — led his Hermantown squad to victory with a pair of goals in a 3-2 win.

It was a family affair for the Plante family; Zam’s brother, Max Plante, is a sophomore who skates on the same line as his older sibling. The duo — sons of former NHLer Derek Plante — grew up watching their grandfather, Bruce Plante, routinely lead Hermantown to state finals appearances. It took a while for grandpa’s teams to prevail; Hermantown finally won titles in 2016 and 2017 in Bruce’s final two seasons. 

“I’ve been watching it since I can remember, since my grandpa was coaching,” Zam Plante said via the MN Boys’ Hockey Hub. “Second place, second place, finally got two at the end. And to finally get to do it myself is the best feeling in the world.”

Plante, who has been splitting seasons between Minnesota High School Hockey and the USHL, racked up 61 points in 22 games this season with Hermantown, despite missing time with an injury. 

Hermantown only lost two games all season, both coming to Class 2A schools that reached the state tournament in Cretin-Derham Hall and Maple Grove

Dane Callaway led the way between the pipes for Hermantown, stopping 19 of the 21 shots sent his way. On the season, he recorded a 20-2-0 record, with a 1.47 goals-against average, .919 save percentage and five shutouts.

The victory wrapped up a dominating postseason for Hermantown; the Hawks won their three Section 7A games 13-0, 6-0 and 11-0 to secure their spot at Xcel Energy Center. There, they posted a 5-1 win in the Class A quarterfinal and a 7-1 win in the semifinal before Saturday’s championship bout.

Andover’s OT Thriller

The 2A title game, played in front of 18,950 fans, was a Saturday night thriller that needed two overtimes to decide a winner.

There, in that second extra period, senior forward Logan Gravink scored the biggest goal of the weekend, giving Andover a state title in a 6-5 double overtime win over Maple Grove.

Lou Nanne came and talked to the boys and said this was the best hockey game he’s seen since 1969,” said Andover coach Mark Manney; Nanne has been the state tournament analyst since 1964. “It was fun on the bench and probably a great game to play in. Fortunately, we got the bounce and Logan finished it for us.”

Junior Gavyn Thoreson had quite the memorable goal, as well, as he forced OT by tying the game 5-5 with 1:50 left in regulation. Thoreson led Andover in scoring on the season, as he racked up 29 goals and  74 total points. 

Austin Brauns was the leader from the crease for Andover throughout 2021-22 — he finished with a 22-5-1 record, 1.78 goals-against average, .929 save percentage and five shutouts. 

Josh Giuliani did everything he could for Maple Grove; the senior forward scored a hat trick in the title game, a day after scoring a hat trick in the semifinals. 

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Black Bear Sports Group And USPHL Join To Form Mega Youth Hockey League

Some prominent entities in the United States’ east coast hockey community are joining forces.

It was announced this week that Black Bear Sports Group, the United States Premier Hockey League and the Tier-1 Hockey Federation are entering into a new collaboration for their youth hockey programs.

Teams of all ages from across Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania will now play in the THF-USPHL South Division (shortened to “THF South”). Meanwhile, 18U, 16U and 15O teams in Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts will play in the USPHL-THF North Division (“USPHL North”), which will be administered by the THF. The youth teams of the USPHL North Member clubs will remain in their current leagues.

The two divisions discussed above will compete at season’s end for a USPHL Championship.

“Through our collaboration with the USPHL, the THF is now a one-of-a-kind organization in that we are the only group with clubs that operate from ‘cradle to college,’ from Mite through Midget at the youth level and every level of junior hockey developing players for NCAA Division-I, II and III schools,” said Murry N. Gunty, Founder and CEO of Black Bear Sports Group. “We are honored to collaborate with the USPHL and their member clubs, and look forward to building upon all of their successes to date.”

Tony Zasowski, previously the director of the North American Prospects Hockey League (NAPHL), has been named commissioner of the THF. Zasowski brings a wealth of experience to the new role, having led one of the largest youth hockey leagues in the U.S., in addition to his work with the NAHL Central Scouting, prospects tournaments and combines initiatives.

“I am excited to work with all of our member clubs in the THF and USPHL to build one of the top Tier-1 organizations in the country,” said Tony Zasowski, Commissioner of the THF. “We have an amazing group of operators that will support the growth and placement of all our hockey players to the highest levels.”

The Mercer Chiefs will also be purchasing a Tier-2 NCDC junior hockey franchise, and field a team in the 2022-23 season.

“The Mercer Chiefs have a long history of success at the youth level so we are thrilled to have them join us in the NCDC,” said Bob Turow, Commissioner of the USPHL. “We believe this association at the Midget and youth levels will strengthen both of our organizations.”

For more information regarding the latest youth hockey news from around the world, follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube!

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Pacific District Champions Earn Automatic Bids To National Tournament

March Madness started a week early on the west coast. 

USA Hockey’s Pacific District held its 2022 Tier 1 championships Feb. 24-27, crowning the teams that will represent the region at the upcoming national tournament.

The Pacific District, made up of Alaska, California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington, gathered its top teams in Irvine, Calif., for an impressive weekend of hockey action.

The California Golden Bears captured the 14U crown, while the Los Angeles Jr. Kings won the 15O division. The Anaheim Jr. Ducks won the 16U and 18U divisions — the latter of which needed a shootout in the title game to decide a winner.

Those teams lock in their spots for the 2022 USA Hockey National Championships, earning automatic bids from the Pacific Division. They join the following teams that have already earned their respective bids:

The Pacific District was the third region to conclude its playoffs. The other nine USA Hockey districts will be hosting their state/district championships over the coming weeks. Each of the national playoff fields will be filled out with a select number of at-large bids, as well.

The 14U Golden Bears impressed as they stormed through the district playoffs to win a region title and a ticket to Chicago for nationals. After starting the tournament off with a 5-4 loss to Team Alaska, they rattled off four straight wins to erase the blunder. A quick turnaround was necessary, as they had the No. 10-ranked L.A. Jr. Kings next on the schedule; the Bears pulled off the upset 6-4.

Momentum led the way from there, as the ‘07 Bears posted a 13-0 win over the Sno-King Jr. Thunderbirds and a 7-2 win over the Anaheim Jr. Ducks to line up a rematch with Team Alaska in the final. There, the Bears got their revenge, topping Alaska 4-2.

In the 15O age group, it was the L.A. Jr Kings getting the job done. Like the Golden Bears above, they had one stumble against Team Alaska, but they were able to rebound when it mattered most.

The Kings started with a 2-0 win over the Anaheim Jr. Ducks, followed by a 4-1 win over the Anaheim Ice Dogs. On Saturday, the ’06 Kings dropped a 4-0 game to Team Alaska, but the two teams squared off again on Championship Sunday, and there, it was the Kings winning the game that mattered most. A 2-1 nail biter went the way of L.A., and they’re now packing for USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Mich., for the 15O national playoffs.

At 16U, the Jr. Ducks rolled through tournament play, with the championship game being the only one that presented any type of stress on the team. The ’05 Ducks started with a bang,  beating the San Jose Jr. Sharks 10-1. They did even better the next day, shutting out the Sno-King Jr. Thunderbirds 10-0. From there, they posted Saturday wins of 7-1 and 11-1 over the Vegas Jr. Golden Knights and San Jose Jr. Sharks, respectively.

In the final, Team Alaska gave ‘em a run for their money, but the Ducks’ four goals were enough to overcome Alaska’s three. With the victory, the Ducks can start planning their trip to Metro Detroit for the 16U nationals.

The 18U Ducks ended up playing the Northwest Stars to a shootout on two different occasions on the weekend, and while the Stars won the first one, the Ducks won the one that sends them to Nationals. Along the way, the Ducks also picked up a 4-1 win over the California Wave and a 5-0 win over Team Alaska. Now, they’re off to Metro Detroit, as well, for the 18U national tournament.

World Hockey Hub will have continued coverage of USA Hockey Nationals and the remaining nine district championships leading up to the tournament. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube for the latest in who advances to the ‘big dance!’

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Helpful Approaches To Mental Success On And Off The Ice

To some extent we all understand that confidence is a helpful approach to success. Confident folks show up ready to take on the day’s challenges. Confident athletes show up ready to compete. They fully believe in their abilities. They know that they will give their opponent a run for their money.

Myth: Confidence Is For The Few

Some believe that confidence is reserved for only a small group of people. They believe that confidence is something a person is born with, like a personality trait. There are traits like charisma and being outgoing that are at times thought of as confidence. But those traits do not equal confidence. 

We have seen stories and known of people who have a quiet confidence who would not fit the description of a highly social person. Essentially, confidence is not limited to extroverts or those who can walk into a room and command attention, but for introverts and those who fly under the radar of mass attention.

Confidence is not a trait. A person is not born confident. Confidence is a mindset.

Myth: You Have To Be Winning To Be Confident

Others believe that in order to be confident you have to have won; that you have to have a winning record to be confident or that you have to have some sort of proof to be confident. Confidence is not just given to a person. 

Just because you have won does not mean you are automatically confident.

Winning helps. Knowing that you have the skill to win in competition, beat out opponents, and you have what it takes to reach your goals does build confidence. But winning is not necessary to be confident. You can be an underdog and be confident. You can be a backup goalie or be on the fourth line and still be confident. Confidence is a mindset.

Confidence Is A Choice

When I first learned that confidence could be a choice, I didn’t believe it. If confidence was a choice then I would be confident, why wouldn’t I choose to be confident all the time. Why aren’t all people automatically confident if we can just choose it? I didn’t buy into the idea that a person could actively choose to be confident.

However, if you break it down you can begin to see how a person, athlete, or coach can choose confidence. Confidence is the unshakable belief in your ability. The belief in yourself is a thought process. Our minds can choose what thoughts to repeat, what thoughts to listen to, and what thoughts to interrupt. The constant self-talk statement of doubt or unworthiness certainly is not going to help a person be confident when the pressure is up. In fact, not only will it lead to a decrease in personal confidence but it also leads to poor performance. The athlete who is constantly questioning their ability will completely shut down after a mistake.

But a confident athlete can choose their thoughts to say, “I’m ready,” “I’ve trained for this,” and “No one will outwork me.” An athlete who tells themselves confident statements is going to be better prepared for competition and bounce back more quickly if they make a mistake. The more confident thoughts an athlete has, the stronger his or her belief becomes in their ability to perform. As this belief is continuously reinforced by confident thinking, the athlete builds and maintains a sense of confidence.

Start Choosing Confidence

Make a list of at least 10 positive confidence-building statements. The idea of 10 may seem like it’s not too many, but it can be tough to think of statements that actually mean something to you.

If you get 10 easily, push for 15–20. Once you have the list, read and reread it again. Build the reading this list into your routines. The more you go over the list the more the statements will ring true to you. Your pattern of thoughts will develop your mindset. Thinking specific confidence boosting thoughts will strengthen specific neural-pathways in your brain. The statements will become an automatic response when you’re faced with difficult or challenging times. You will maintain a sense of belief and confidence by choosing a confident mindset. This mindset determines your behavior and subsequently your performance.

By Blaise Fayolle, EdD, CMPC, LLPC 

Blaise Fayolle holds a doctorate in Sport and Performance Psychology and is credentialed as a Certified Mental Performance Consultant® through the Associated for Applied Sport Psychology. Blaise is also a licensed mental health professional in Michigan. 

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First Ever AAA Spring Invite Set For Detroit

World Hockey Events is headed to Hockeytown, USA for the first ever AAA Spring Invite. Eighty Elite and AAA programs from all across North America are headed to the Motor City on April 22nd for a tournament that’s guaranteed to be an instant classic. Bragging rights are on the line for Michigan programs as they look to defend their home turf against teams from New Jersey, Tennessee, Nebraska, New York, and New Hampshire. Nobody does hockey better than the city of Detroit, and this tournament better be on your spring team’s to-do list.

“The World Hockey Events team is chomping at the bit to kick this thing off,” said Jason Deskins, National Director of Recruitment at Total Package Hockey. “This is the first tournament we’ve developed under the newly formed World Hockey Events umbrella, and we can already tell that we’ve got a recipe for success. Our team has over 20 years of tournament experience, so it only made sense to host our first event in America’s favorite hockey city. We can’t wait for you and your team to experience the inaugural AAA Spring Invite.”

All of the action is going down at two of the metro area’s premier hockey venues; Troy Sports Center and Viking Ice Arena. Combined, the two facilities feature six full-sized rinks, which is more than enough ice for the 200-plus games taking place over the tournament’s three-day span. Not to mention, each venue is conveniently located near plenty of places to grab a bite, pick up a new stick, or take your mind off the game for a bit.

Already looking for things to do in the area? You came to the right spot! Detroit has no shortage of off-ice activities, whether you’re looking for team bonding experiences or some plain, old R&R. The AAA Spring Invite takes place just a quick ride away from the Arena District, which is home to four professional sports teams. Plus, you can’t forget about all of the spots to grab a team dinner on Detroit’s renowned Monroe Street. All parents and coaches are highly encouraged to round out the weekend by sharing a pint at the home of All Day IPA, Founders Brewing Company.

A tournament built by the best in the game, for the best in the game. What more could you ask for? Click HERE to register for the AAA Spring Invite!

Want more from World Hockey Events? Check out our complete lineup of tournaments HERE.

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How The Top USHL Prospects ‘Climbed The Ladder’ of Youth Hockey

It has went through different variations over the years, but the purpose has remained the same — promote some of the top American players hoping to be selected in the NHL Draft.

The BioSteel All-American Game, slated to take place at USA Hockey Arena on Jan. 17, brings together a collection of USHL players and members of USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program (USNTDP) for an all-star showcase event in front of scouts and media alike.

What was first a September game known as the CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game played at NHL arenas, USA Hockey moved the event to the middle of the season and to its home in Plymouth, Michigan. Originally pitting the NTDP vs. a USHL all-star game, organizers have aimed to increase balance by splitting up the NTDP players, so both teams have the same dynamics of players skating alongside foreign teammates.

For the 2022 edition of the BioSteel game, the majority of the Team Blue and Team White rosters are made up of the top 2004 birth-year players eligible for the upcoming 2022 NHL Draft. USA Hockey also promotes elder statesmen still hoping for an NHL team to call their name on the second or third time through the draft process.

Forty-four players are on the initial rosters; they represent 20 different states. Minnesota leads the way with 11 players selected. Twenty of the players currently play for the NTDP, while two alums are suiting up, as well.

For our latest ‘Origins’ story, we’re taking a look at the 22 players who have made the BioSteel game rosters without playing for the NTDP (at least in a full-time capacity). The flagship program may be a top-tier destination for youth players trying to advance to hockey’s highest levels, but it’s not the only path. The USHL offers great opportunities for players, and this particular roster collection shows all the different ways to reach American junior hockey’s highest league.

The 22 players come from all over the continental United States; the collection reflects hockey’s expanding footprint into previously untapped areas like California, Arizona and Texas.

To see the full rosters for the game, click here.

Ten of the 22 are 2004 birth-year players preparing for their first NHL Draft opportunity. Eight are 2003 birth-year players, which means they were passed by in the 2021 draft, or their birthday came after the Sept. 15 cut-off date. The other four are 2002 birth-year players, with their last chance at being drafted. 

Every single player played AAA hockey, while 11 played in some form of high school hockey. In Minnesota, high school hockey reigns supreme, while in other states, players are able to compete for their high schools alongside playing for AAA programs. Michigan is the lone state of the traditional hockey hotbed states to prohibit such dual-rostering. 

World Hockey Hub also took a closer look at some of the major tournaments and showcases the players participated in during their formative years, as there’s always a debate as to what a player should and shouldn’t be doing to maximize their development. 

Ten of the 22 players skating in the BioSteel game competed in the Quebec International Pee Wee Hockey Tournament in their respective birth-years. Five, meanwhile, played in the Brick Tournament in Edmonton. Those statistics are based off each player’s Elite Prospects page – it’s certainly possible that there were more. 

Twelve of the 22 competed in the World Selects Invitational tournament series, billed as the top spring event for elite hockey players. 

Meanwhile, the numbers also show the importance of the players excelling in their state or USA Hockey region to secure a spot at the USA Hockey Select Camps each summer. Eighteen of the 22 players have skated in at least one of the national camps to train with USA Hockey’s best, and gain important exposure with national teams and scouts. 

Nine of the players were selected to compete for Team USA at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup; USA Hockey uses the their Select 17 camp to select their roster for the prestigious early-season tournament.

Top 2004 birth-year players to watch from the non-NTDP group include defenseman Vinny Borgesi and forward Zam Plante; both ranked in the top 20 in the country by PuckPreps.

Borgesi is no stranger to most of the highly-regarded players in the birth year after playing for Team USA at the Youth Olympic Games in 2019-2020 with a substantial amount of the NTDP ’04 group. After playing for Team Comcast and the Valley Forge Minutemen at the 13U and 14U age groups, Borgesi played one year at South Kent Selects Academy before making the jump to the USHL with the Tri-City Storm. 

Plante, meanwhile, has been on the Minnesota elite hockey route for a while now, thriving in the AAA world and skating in the prestigious Upper Midwest High School Elite League around his high school hockey season with Hermantown High. This year, he played the start of the season with the USHL’s Chicago Steel before returning to Hermantown for his senior year of high school hockey – another testament to the skill level and dedication on display for the State of Hockey’s high school hockey scene.

The BioSteel game is a tremendous opportunity for the players, as the alumni list for the various incarnations of the game reads like a fantasy hockey wishlist. Last year, the game featured first-round picks in Matty Beniers, Cole Sillinger, Matt Coronato, Chaz Lucius and Mackie Samoskevich. Previous rosters are even more intimidating, with names like Seth Jones, Dylan Larkin, Alex Tuch, Jack Eichel, Zach Werenski, Kyle Connor, Clayton Keller, Josh Norris, Brady Tkachuk, Quinn Hughes, Jack Hughes, Trevor Zegras and more.  

Want more from the world of youth hockey? Follow WHH on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube for the latest news, highlights, rankings and more.

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Indoor Activities, Gatherings Halted in Provinces, Forcing GTHL And Others To Pause Season

With the province of Ontario entering a lockdown reminiscent of the initial COVID-19 wave in 2020, Canada’s largest hockey league has hit pause once again.

The Greater Toronto Hockey League (GTHL) officially announced a halt in operations Monday, following the announcement from the Ontario government that youth hockey — like most everything else — would be put on the shelves until further notice.

The Omicron variant of COVID-19 is sweeping through North America and causing another round of disruptions for normal activities in the youth hockey community.

Per the Government of Ontario’s new temporary restrictions, the province moves to a ‘Stage Two of the Roadmap to Reopen’ plan. That means indoor sports are paused for a period of at least 21 days beginning on Jan. 5 at 12:01 a.m. Indoor sports facilities are closed until at least Jan. 26.

Similar lockdown measures are being enforced in British Columbia and Quebec, the latter of which has a strict 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. complete curfew.

An ominous photo of hockey nets padlocked together on an outdoor rink in Quebec has been making the rounds on social media as a statement about the severity of the lockdown.


The GTHL Top Prospects Game, originally scheduled to take place on Jan. 13, has been postponed, and a new date will be announced when the lockdown measures are lifted.

The Toronto Marlboros Holiday Classic, an annual tournament that brings top talent from both Canada and the U.S. together, was a recent casualty, as well.

No official word yet on the status of the Quebec International Pee Wee Hockey Tournament; the iconic event was slated to proceed as usual after some heavy lifting by tournament organizers to secure fully vaccinated teams from six different countries.

“As we continue with our provincial vaccine booster efforts, we must look at every option to slow the spread of the highly contagious Omicron variant,” Ontario premier Doug Ford said in the official release from the province announcing the new policies. “Putting these targeted and time-limited measures in place will give us more opportunity to deliver vaccines to all Ontarians and ensure everyone has maximum protection against this virus.”

Canadian youth hockey players lost the entire 2020-21 hockey season, and the hope was that it would be the only time a youth hockey generation would have to experience something so drastic. With the IIHF World Junior Championship canceled, NHL games being postponed, it’s hard to know when Canadian hockey players will be able to get back onto the ice, but we hope it will be as soon as possible.

For more news from the world of youth hockey, follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube.

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