DYHA trio makes strides at USA Hockey Youth Nationals
The DYHA Jr. Sun Devils season wrapped on a high note last month, with three teams from the organization representing the club and state at USA Hockey Youth Nationals.
“It says we are doing some of the right things,” said DYHA director of hockey operations and coach-in-chief Brad McCaughey. “Every year is going to be different and we had pretty solid teams this year.”
The Jr. Sun Devils sent three Tier II teams to Nationals at the 14U, 16U and 18U levels.
The 18U Jr. Sun Devils advanced out of their group in Green Bay, Wis. The Midgets lost their first two group games in the three-team group, 1-0 loss to the Casco Bay Mariners and a 6-5 shootout loss to Avalanche Red. Needing a win in their Saturday game, the Jr. Devils knocked off the Alaska Wolves 2-1.
Kole Goldberg and Justin Sturm scored goals in the second and third period of the game while goaltender Kevin Church made 24 saves to help the Jr. Sun Devils reach the 2A national quarterfinal.
The DYHA 18Us were drawn against the Ashburn Xtreme in the win-or-go-home knockout game and Cole Kamin scored a goal late in the first period to keep the team in it. Joey Grams scored a third period goal and Church made 38 saves, but it wasn’t enough in an eventual 5-2 loss to Ashburn.
Goldberg and Spencer Zach both recorded three points to lead the team. Church played all four games in net and finished with a 3.44 goals-against average and a .894 save percentage.
The 16U Jr. Sun Devils, meanwhile, went to Wayne, N.J., to take part in the 2A 16U Tier II Nationals. After opening the tournament with a close 3-2 loss to the Carolina Eagles, the Jr. Devils bounced back with a dominant 6-1 win over the Twin Bridges Lightning.
Jakob Wreschner got the scoring started for DYHA in the win, lighting the lamp twice in the first period before completing a hat trick in the second. Kaden Krueger, Josh Brown and Scott Kinsey also all scored in the win and goalie Antoine Pare made 11 saves on 12 shots.
Wreschner scored again in the 16U’s final pool play game, but it wasn’t enough in a 4-1 loss to the Atlanta Phoenix. Wreschner and Brown each tallied four points in the national tournament to tie for the team lead while Pare saved 85 total shots.
The DYHA 14U Jr. Sun Devils headed to the Northeast too, traveling to Amherst, N.Y. After opening the tournament with a 3-0 loss to the Maine Moose, the Bantam Jr. Devils bounced back in their second game, too, a 6-4 win against the Bowling Green Ice Cats.
In the win, the Jr. Sun Devils went into a quick 2-0 hole before Stephen Sica got DYHA on the board late in the first period. In the second, A.J. Fryer, Sica and Kaidan Willa all scored for DYHA to take a 4-2 lead heading into the final frame. Bowling Green scored two quick goals in the third before George Kuehn and Sica tacked on a pair of even-strength goals to give DYHA the win.
In their group stage finale, Jr. Sun Devils goalies Christopher Walgren and George Serbin combined to make 49 saves, but the team lost 7-0 to the Gulf Coast Flames to bring their season to an end.
Overall, the three DYHA teams competing at Nationals won three games and scored 24 total goals. It was a landmark week for the organization after it sent just a single team to Nationals last season.
As McCaughey said before the teams left: “That’s the goal for all those teams. Going to Nationals is the ultimate goal, so it’s super exciting.”
— Jack Harris
(May 2, 2018)