Jr. Coyotes sweep en route to four Tier I state titles
Four new banners now reside with the Jr. Coyotes as the organization captured all four Arizona Amateur Hockey Association Tier I championships for the 2016-17 season.
On top of that, the 14U and 15 Only Tier I USA Hockey Youth Nationals will be hosted by the Jr. Coyotes from April 6-10.
At the 14U level, coach Steve Potvin led his team to the title after winning Game 4 of the best-of-five series by a 5-2 score on March 1 over the Arizona Bobcats at the Arcadia Ice Arena.
Potvin called the championship “absolutely gratifying” and said the best part of the team is “the commitment from the players, parents, coaches and director.”
Five different players scored in the title game and goaltender Liam O’Gwen made 16 saves.
Jason Wright took the 15U team to the 15 Only title after a three-game sweep of the Bobcats that culminated Feb. 12 at Ice Den Scottsdale in a thrilling 3-2 overtime win on Rowan Miller’s second goal of the game. Garrett Wright added a goal and two assists and John Werber stopped 24 shots in goal.
“The boys were very excited to win as it was their goal all year,” said Wright. “These kids have been resilient. They have not had an easy road, but they have persevered and reached one of their team goals with character and hard work. For Nationals (also in Scottsdale), we will probably be ranked as one of the lower teams there, but that is what our boys are used to. We will prepare all month and hopefully be able to make it out of our first bracket. From there, who knows?”
“Back-to-back titles always feels good,” added assistant coach Mike Johnson. “This group works hard and has really matured over the years. I think we can do well at Nationals here in Scottsdale.”
Shawn McCosh’s squad took two straight from the Bobcats to win the 16U title with a 1-0 win on Feb. 10 proving to be the clincher. Kyle DeCoster netted the lone goal and Evan Szary earning the shutout with a 24-save shutout.
“The boys have faced a lot of adversity all year, especially with injuries, so it makes it a bit more special winning states,” said McCosh. “They are a good bunch of kids on and off the ice.”
The Jr. Coyotes’ 18U team (pictured top) completed the sweep of the Bobcats after a 9-2 win at Arcadia on Feb. 10.
“Any time you can continue to make advancements towards your final goal is always rewarding,” said 18U coach Ryan McGinnis. “Our expectations have remained the same since Day 1, and that’s to get better every day so that we are best prepared for Nationals in Pittsburgh come April.”
“This team has really bought in to what the coaches were selling,” added 18U assistant coach Mike Vukonich. “Most of their success is due to their high compete level and the added bonus is how they have adapted to the systems put in front of them. They really deserve where they are today.”
— Matt Mackinder