The 15U team traveled to the iconic New England Sports Center in Marlborough, MA this weekend and came home with the NHL Midget Cup after going 5-0-1 over three days. Strong team play and outstanding goaltending led the way for the Little Caps, who recorded 3 shutouts and allowed more than 2 goals only once in 6 games.
Before their first game, the team visited the Becker College hockey facilities and got a tour and talk from the coach and a current player about playing college hockey and the commitment and work that requires. Suitably inspired by that experience, the team went out and dominated the Northern Cyclones team 10-0. The team poured 58 shots on the Cyclones net. Kareem El-Bashir led the way with 4 goals, with the 6 other players also scoring. Peter Pirone was perfect in net.
In the nightcap, the Little Caps spotted the Middlesex Islander 15U USPHL team a 1-0 lead, but stormed back with 3 unanswered goals – from Dylan Chun, George Egournov, and Nate Cheney – to finish the first day of the tournament a perfect 2-0. Garrett Cole stopped 19 of 20 shots to backstop a solid defensive performance.
Day 2 of the tournament started early against the PAL Islanders. Despite controlling play and getting 50 shots on net, the Little Caps could not put the Islanders away. Two goals by George Egournov (2) and an shorthanded goal by Tyler Rothermund staked the team to a 3-1 lead. An Islander goal with 2 minutes to play cut the lead to 3-2, but the team closed out the game for a 3-0 start to the tournament. Peter Pirone was again excellent in net, stopping 28 of 30 shots.
Later that night, the team faced off against future Southeast Districts foe Nashville in what promised to be a competitive and exciting game with the winner claiming the top seed in the playoff bracket. The contest lived up to the predictions. Nashville jumped out to an early 1-0 lead on a strange goal which barely crossed the goal line. A few minutes later, Harry Burmeister tied the game off a nice assist from Ethan Boyagian. Nashville scored again with a nice shot from the faceoff circle towards the of the first period, and Nashville went into the second with a 2-1 lead. The second period saw an offensive explosion. Harry Burmeister scored two early goals off nice feeds from Kyle Wilson, followed by two Nashville tallies, and concluding with two power play goals by Dylan Chun in late the period, which ended with the Caps holding a 5-4 lead. The third period was tense, but Nashville tied the game with a few minutes to go, banging in a rebound from the slot. The Little Caps had a few good chances during the 3-on-3 overtime, but couldn’t convert, so the game went to a shutout. Both teams went scoreless though the first 3 shooters before Nashville’s 4th try resulted in a goal and a 6-5 shootout victory for the Jr. Predators.
Sunday morning saw the Little Caps facing AYHL foe Virtua in the semi-finals. After the teams felt each other out for most of the first period, Matt Sutter made a nice play to spring Kareem El-Bashir out of the Little Caps zone with Jeremy Wilson on a 2-on-1. Kareem drove wide, fed a perfect pass to Wilson who buried the shot for a 1-0 lead. A goal with 2 seconds left gave the Little Caps a 2-0 lead after the first period. A power play goal by George Egournov was the only scoring in the second, but George followed that up with a shorthanded goal in the third. Long shots by Dylan Chun and Colton Gehrt in the 3rd completed the scoring as the Little Caps advanced to the finals with a 6-0 win. Peter Pirone was tremendous in goal, stopping all 31 Virtua shots and looking like he was in complete control.
After a very short turnaround, the team took the ice for a rematch with Nashville for the tournament title. The game was evenly played, but once again solid defensive play and excellent goaltending (this time by Garrett Cole) was instrumental in keeping the game scoreless. With less than 8 minutes to go in the game, the Little Caps got their only power play chance of the game. A few seconds before the expiration of the penalty, Matthew Hornick fed the puck across to fellow blueliner Dylan Chun. With two Little Caps providing a screen in front, Chun faked a shot and slid a perfect pass across to the faceoff dot where Tyler Rothermund hit a screaming one-timer into the net for what turned out to the tournament winning goal. Lockdown defense for the last few minutes and more steady goaltending by Cole sealed the win as everyone poured onto the ice to celebrate.
Great team effort by everyone all weekend led to a very fun and satisfying tournament win.