Three Massachusetts teams earn bids to Nationals
It may only be November, but a few Massachusetts teams already know where they’re going to be in April.
Massachusetts Hockey crowned its 15O, 16U and 18U state champions last weekend, helping a few teams punch their tickets to the USA Hockey National Championships a little earlier than their peers in other districts.
The field of teams for USA Hockey Nationals is divided into 12 districts, and by winning a district tournament, teams automatically qualify for the country’s national tournament at the end of the season. With the Massachusetts District playoffs concluding this weekend, these three teams have become the first wave of programs to earn a spot at Nationals still more than four months away.
Flames Take 15O Banner
At the 15-only age group, the Minuteman Flames posted a perfect 3-0-0 record to earn a state championship banner. They scored four goals in every game; a model of consistency en route to a national playoff berth.
In their tournament opener Saturday, the Flames beat Boston Hockey Academy 4-3, thanks to goals from Matt McDonald, Dom Connearny, Drew Carr and Aiden Higson, and a strong outing between the pipes from Mason DeCaire. Later in the day, they beat the Cape Cod Whalers 4-2, on goals from Nate Walsh (two), Carr and Brendan Keaveney. Sam Difore was in between the pipes for the second victory.
In the championship bout, the Flames once again had balanced scoring, as Carr, Walsh, Matthew Welch and Danny Buckley all found the back of the net, giving DeCaire the cushion he needed to guide the Flames to a 4-2 victory.
Walsh and Carr both finished with five points in the three games, while Neponset Valley’s Cam McGettrick led the field in scoring with six on the weekend.
Jr. Eagles Claim 16U Title
The team to beat ended up being the team to win in 16U, as the Boston Jr. Eagles — ranked No. 9 in the world and No. 5 in the country — claimed the state title.
Balanced scoring started early, as Daniel Markevych, Jonathan Lanza, Nate Porter, Ethane Gardula and Jake McManus all scored in a 5-1 tournament-opening win over Top Gun Saturday morning. Sam Scopa picked up the win between the pipes.
Saturday afternoon, they met the Boston Little Bruins, and the Jr. Eagles had no problems dispatching the Original Six-branded foe. Teddy Stiga scored twice, while Shawn Leary, Jack Sadowski and Gardula also scored. Ben Hack turned aside all but two of the Bruins’ shots sent his way to record the win in goal.
In the final, Jason Zaccari, McManus, Markevych and Stiga scored in a 4-1 win over the North Suburban Wings to secure a spot at Nationals for Boston. Scopa was once again between the pipes for the victory.
Stiga ended up leading the field in scoring, registering seven points in the three games. McManus and Gardula both had five.
The Jr. Eagles are now 17-3-5 on the season.
Jr. Eagles Win 18U Banner
Just like their 16U counterparts, the 18U Boston Jr. Eagles took care of business this weekend, as well.
On Saturday, they posted a 9-5 win over Boston Hockey Academy to start the tourney with a bang. Nick Bevilacqua and Ryan Kazmouz split the 60 minutes between the pipes.
We’re going to give you a final scoring total for the points leaders after we get through the short game recaps, because in their two games Sunday, the Eagles scored ten more goals. To secure their spot in the finals, they beat Top Gun 5-2, with Bevilacqua taking care of things in goal.
In the championship round, it was a 5-3 win over the South Shore Kings – no stat line on who was in between the pipes for that one.
And now for the final stats totals – Landyn Greatorex led the tournament in scoring with eight points, while Michael Callow had seven and Brendan Gorman had six.
District championships continue over the next several months of the season, and World Hockey Hub will have continued coverage of all U.S. teams to earn a spot in the national tournament. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube for the latest news from the world of youth hockey, including national tournament coverage of the U.S., Canada, Russia, Sweden and Finland.
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