United Hockey Union National Championships- Day Three Summary
Idaho Jr. Steelheads: 5
AHI Fighting Spirit: 6 (OT)
Coming off one of their biggest wins of the season, the Idaho Jr. Steelheads struggled early on in their final pool play game against the NSHL's AHI Fighting Spirit.
After falling behind 2-0 early in the opening frame, the Jr. Steelheads fought back and eventually took a 5-3 lead in the second and held on to it until the Spirit capitalized on two chances late in regulation to send it into overtime, before eventually completing the comeback with a 6-5 win.
It only took 12 seconds for Idaho's ominous start to begin, as goaltender Danny Kowalski misplayed a puck behind his net and it bounced right onto the stick of Matt Roberts, who lit the lamp and got the Spirit out to a 1-0 lead.
With Idaho captain Randy Patzner off for cross-checking near the middle part of the period, the Spirit pushed their lead to 2-0 on the ensuing power play, as Jeremy Hannah put one home at 10:38.
Victor Carlsson got the Jr. Steelheads on the board late in the period, as the skilled Swede beat Anthony D'Urso from the slot to make it a 2-1 game but AHI came right back in the second to take a two-goal lead back, as they struck on the power play with Patzner in the box again, with Mitch Purdie beating Kowalski exactly five minutes in.
After the Purdie goal however, the Jr. Steelheads carried play over for the final 15 minutes of the period, keeping the puck in the AHI zone throughout and scoring four straight goals to take a 5-3 lead.
Carlsson got the roll started with his second of the game at 8:14, Ben Hull buried one from the slot 1:40 later Jesper Jensen and Victor Ivarsson tallied just 31 seconds apart to make it 5-3.
Idaho locked it down for most of the third and continued to control play but the Fighting Spirit were opportunistic late in the period and converted the two chances they had.
With 2:01 left in regulation, the tournament's leading scorer, Ryan Chauvin, scored an unassisted goal to make things interesting and with 55 seconds left on the board, Anthony Langevin beat Kowalski on a breakaway to tie things up and send the contest into overtime.
With each team playing their second overtime game of the event and on sloppy ice to-boot, play slowed down considerably and neither took many chances but with 3:32 left on the clock, Chauvin threw a shot from a steep angle that beat Kowalski to give AHI the win.
Chauvin finished the game with three points to lead the Spirit yet again, while Langevin, Purdie and Trevor Simonson each had two. Seeing his first action of the event, Anthony D'Urso was strong in the AHI crease, stopping 44 of 49 in the win.
Carlsson, Hull, Ivarsson, Dak Dice and Hunter Lester each notched a pair of points for Idaho in the tough overtime loss, while Kowalski stopped 27 of 33 in net.
With El Paso's victory over Soo in the nightcap, the Rhinos, Jr. Steelheads and Fighting Spirit finished in a three-way tie for first place, with goal differential becoming the tiebreaker. El Paso finished as the top seed, AHI the second and Idaho the third, so the two teams will face each other again Saturday at 1:15 pm, with a trip to the title game on the line this time around.
Jersey Shore Wildcats: 3
Traverse City Hounds: 6
With both teams playing for nothing but pride, the Traverse City Hounds and Jersey Shore Wildcats finished up their seasons with a well-played game, that the MWJHL champions wound up winning 6-3.
Traverse City opened the scoring in the first on a goal by Kenneth Simmons Jr. as they still had plenty of jump, despite the letdown after the loss to the rival Soo Firehawks the night before.
Jersey Shore came back in the second however and took the lead on a pair of goals by Austin Crane but Jacob Gillis responded with two of his own early in the third for the Hounds, making it 3-2.
Andreas Radin knotted things up for Jersey Shore with a power play marker at 6:44 but Traverse City notched the final three goals of the game, with Simmons adding his second of the night and Premysyl Synek and Matthew Passino tallying one each.
Gillis and skilled defenseman Scott Luca each finished the game with three points to lead Traverse City, while Passino, Simmons and Synek each had two. Vladislav Graevski saw his first action of the event in net for the Hounds and took the win while stopping 25 of 28.
Crane, Radin, Alexandre Racicot and Daniel Vosyka each had a pair of points in the loss of the Wildcats, while Shane Lippincott stopped 34 of 40 in net.
Both teams played hard in each of their three games and certainly deserved to make it to the UHU National Championships but both of their seasons are now over.
Soo Firehawks: 3
El Paso Rhinos: 8
Coming back with a vengeance after having their 34-game winning streak snapped on Wednesday night, the El Paso Rhinos took down the Soo Firehawks by a score of 8-3, earning the top seed heading into the semi-final round in the process.
After slower than usual starts in each of their first two outings, the Rhinos didn't suffer form the same in the third, as they quickly took control against the Soo, who had no answer for their speed and tenacity.
The Rhinos jumped out to a 3-0 first period lead and were never in danger of losing the contest, as big guns like Tom Bartel, David Nelson and other slung over 50 shots on Soo goaltender Anthony Benvenuti in the win, while Bryce Fink was solid in a far less busy El Paso crease.
With the victory and the margin being the way it was, the Rhinos ended up with the top seed out of the round robin stage and will face the #4 seeded Firehawks again at 1:15 pm on Saturday.
** Scoresheet was not available for this game at time of posting **
"Best of the Rest" Bracket
WSHL (2): 7
The WSHL under-20 squad finished the round robin portion with a perfect record, as they came out flying against the NSHL team and pulled away in the third in a 7-1 victory.
Despite controlling play over the opening 40 minutes, the WSHL (2) team only converted twice, both of which came off the stick of Salt Lake City Moose forward Brett Meyer, as they took a 2-0 lead into the second intermission, before the flood gates opened up.
Nick Davidson extended the lead to 3-0 with a power play goal 54 seconds into the third, his Colorado Jr. Eagles teammate Levi Weber made it 4-0 at 12:55 and Matthew Heim of the Dallas Ice Jets pushed it to 5-0 with his goal at 15:21.
Brad Reitter finally got the NSHL on the board just 16 seconds after Heim made it 5-0 but the WSHL underagers came right back with another from Weber and the seventh coming via Justin Becton (Dallas Snipers.)
One of the best players at the event, Meyer finished the game with two goals and four assists, while Weber, another steady contributor, added three and Mark Birchall and Becton each had two.
Mark Becica stopped 17 of the 18 shots he faced to pick up the win in net, while Zac Totten took the loss in the NSHL crease, allowing seven goals on 30 shots.
The WSHL (2) team will now face their elder counterparts again Saturday in the "Best of the Rest" championship game at 10:15 am, while the NSHL finished the tournament with a record of 1-2-0.
WSHL (1): 15
The WSHL overage squad needed a win to set-up a rematch with their younger counterparts in Saturday's "Best of the Rest" championship game and got what they needed in blowout fashion, taking apart a short-benched MWJHL team by a score of 15-2.
Russell Armburster (Cheyenne Stampede) got the ball rolling with his goal 8:08 into the opening period, before Joey Sundgren (Missoula Maulers) made it 2-0 just 25 seconds later and Kyle Blondin (Lake Tahoe Blue) extended it to 3-0 just 1:01 after that, with Sundgren and Blondin's markers coming via Konstantin Kotkov (Long Beach Bombers) assists.
Egor Yaragin would get the MWJHL on the board with his goal at 16:22 of the period and just 36 seconds into the middle frame, Andrei Yanovich made it a 3-2 game.
The WHSL (1) team then roared back to score the final 12 goals of the game, six in each period, to cruise to the victory.
Everyone got in on the action, as Armbruster and Sundgren completed their hat tricks, Travis Cornwell (Arizona Redhawks) and Mike Kowicki (Ogden Mustangs) each added two and Nick Anderson (Lake Tahoe Blue), Ben Henry (Southern Oregon Spartans), Alex Pomerville (Salt Lake City Moose) and Kotkov each added one, Kotkov finishing with a game-high seven points.
Ryan Brown and Yanovich each had two points in the loss for the MWJHL, who didn't have the bodies to compete for a full sixty-minute affair throughout the event but played hard regardless.
Drake Koegel stopped 22 of 24 to get the win in net for the WSHL (1), while Kent Nusbaum allowed 15 goals on 51 shots, without much help from his fatigued MWJHL teammates.
The WSHL overage team gets a second crack at the WSHL under-20 team in Saturday's championship game at 10:15 am, while the MWJHL heads home after going 0-3-0.
Brent Maranto is the WSHL Director of Communications