Breaking Hockey News: East Lansing, Michigan:
The New Hampshire Avalanche 18U team is playing for the Tier II Division 2A USA Hockey National Championship tomorrow at 10am! This press release is meant to be informational and also serve as a summary of how the NH Avalanche 18U team reached the final. Please also note that the goals and assists that I have attached to each highlight are based on my own video review of the plays. They may not match up to the stats awarded at the tournament, and in my book, that is okay. I have seen assists given to players that were not even on the ice and goals that were clearly not scored by the number reported, even here, in this National Championship Tournament.
NH Avalanche 18U – 2017 Results
|Thu Apr 6 @ 03:00 PM||Palm Beach Breakers||W 4-2||
Suburban Ice – East Lansing
|Fri Apr 7 @ 09:15 AM||@ Fort Wayne AWP Elite||W 5-2||
Suburban Ice – East Lansing
|Sat Apr 8 @ 05:15 PM||Hershey Jr. Bears||L 4-5 SO||
Suburban Ice – East Lansing
|Sun Apr 9 @ 03:15 PM||DYHA Junior Sun Devils||W 7-1||
Suburban Ice – East Lansing
|Mon Apr 10 @ 10:00 AM||@ Maine Moose||?||
Suburban Ice – East Lansing
Game One: NH Avs vs. Palm Beach Breakers (Florida)
The Avs were largely in control of their opening game against the team from Palm Beach, Florida. That said, the opening period was scoreless, and the Avs did actually trail 2-1 in this game after a 60-second span when they stopped playing defense. Then, they outshot the Breakers nearly 3:1 for the entire game, earning a 4-2 opening afternoon victory. Noah Charron got the Avs on the board first with a goal from out in front of the net. The feed came from Griffin Gagne, and Charron did not miss. Team play led to this goal as Gagne won and offensive zone faceoff before the puck traveled from Charron to Gagne, to Jack Flanagan for a shot on goal. Then the puck rebounded, hit a Breakers player in the skates, and Jacob Rioux slipped a pass to Charron whose shot whistled wide before Gagne gathered the puck went to Gretzky’s office behind the net and put a pass right on Charron’s stick for the opening Avs goal of the 2017 Tournament. It was a great team play, and that would be a theme which proved very successful for the Avs when implemented.
After the defensive lapse that allowed the Breakers to take a brief, 2-1 lead. Just more than a minute later, the Avs next goal was also made from the Great One’s office. Griffin Gagne flew up the left-wing with the puck before meeting some resistance down by the goal line. Gagne wasn’t about to give up the puck, and after a light skirmish, he emerged with the puck behind the net, and made a quick pass to Eric Keilty, who had crept to the side of the crease. Keilty chipped the puck past the Breakers goaltender, and the Avs had tied the game at 2-2.
Still in the second period, the NH Avalanche pulled ahead for good with less than four minutes left in the period. The goal came when Eric Langley slipped a short pass ahead to Armando Roberto IV all the way back in their own defensive end. From there, Armando Roberto IV raced up the ice with the puck and let a low wrist shot go from the left-wing circle. The shot snuck through the pads of the Breakers goaltender, and the Avs had a 3-2 lead. I know that everyone refers to Armando Roberto IV as Jay, and I will from here on. But trust me, to hear the announcers (on HockeyTV) repeatedly call him by his full name has been awesome.
In the third period, the Avalanche continued to get the better chances to score but the lead was still precarious, at one goal. Then, the onslaught paid off. With just under five minutes to play, the Avalanche scored an insurance goal when Nick Nault and Tyler Chipman kept a play alive along the right-wing boards. The puck slid back to Noah Charron at the right point, as he was covering for Nick Nault who had rushed up ice from his defensive position. Charron strode right into his slapshot and sent a missile towards the net. The puck found its way to the strings, and the Avs led 4-2. The score would remain 4-2, and the folks from New Hampshire had earned a victory over the team from Florida at a neutral rink in Michigan. The Avs went with a tandem goaltending approach. Padraig Capsilas made all 7 saves he faced, while Curtis Wirbal made 5 of 7 saves during his time in net, with not much help during that one minute span in the second period.
Game Two: NH Avs @ Fort Wayne AWP Elite (Indiana)
The game on Friday morning looked as if it may actually have been a real wake up call to the New Hampshire Avalanche 18U team. The first period was played at a less than stellar pace, and the two teams only generated 10 total shots. Worse yet, the Avalanche allowed two goals on the four shots that Fort Wayne put on net. After the opening 17-minute period, the Avs trailed 2-0 and looked lethargic despite getting 3 power-play opportunities.
Matters started to quickly resolve themselves after the first brief intermission. While on their fourth power-play, in the opening minute of the middle stanza, the Avs took a penalty and played some four-on-four hockey. It was during this time that the team seemed to wake up and they started some corrective action of their own. Colin Tracy broke up a play at his own blue line. Defense partner, Nick Nault, scooped up the loose puck with a head of steam, and burst out of his defensive end like a rocket off of the pad. As Nault flew up the ice, and towards the left-wing corner, Jacob Rioux matched the intensity and raced to the front of the net. With the speed of Nault and the positioning of Rioux, the Avalanche somehow turned a 2-on-4 break into an absolutely beautiful goal. Somehow the scorers gave Nault the goal and Rioux the assist but again, I just went by the video. Either way, the goal was gorgeous, and the Avs were on the board, trailing 2-1.
Several minutes went by before the Avalanche could get this game tied. The play started with a three-man rush, and a wildly, high slapshot from Jack Flanagan that rattled into the far corner. Eric Keilty was first on the puck in the corner, and he managed to secure possession and feed a pass to the ever-lurking Colin Tracy who had stepped into some open space from his position at the right point. Tracy let a quick wrist shot go that found the back of the net, and his goal tied the game at 2-2.
The Avs kept coming, ultimately out-gunning the Elites 13 to 3 in shots on goal for the period. In the 15th minute of a 17-minute period, the Avs, all but put the game away. First, on the power-play, the Avs moved the puck very quickly and very well. Before you knew it, half the team had touched the puck, and bing-bang-goal; Tyler Chipman scored from Noah Charron and Matthew Chorlian. It was an aesthetically pleasing hockey goal if ever there was one. Then, the Avs struck again just 31 seconds later. The goal came after Nick Nault made a nice play at the right point, and stepped inside a defender with a slick move. Nault lost the puck though, right onto the stick of Tyler Chipman out deep near the right point. Chipman did what all offensive players like to do, he ripped a shot towards the net and the traffic in the area. Fort Wayne’s goaltender made the initial save but Jacob Rioux pounced on the rebound to give the Avs a 4-2 lead. Rioux’s goal was the fourth goal of the period for the Avs. Yes folks, they had officially awoken.
In the third period the Avs played shorthanded for almost 6 minutes which kept the score at 4-2, and the number of chances down. Then with less than a minute to play, the folks from Fort Wayne allowed an empty net goal when Jacob Rioux took an errant pass all the way from his own end and deposited it gently into the yawning net. Final score, Avs 5, Fort Wayne 2. Padraig Capsilas made all 7 saves he faced, while Curtis Wirbal made 4 of 6 saves while the Avs were still sleeping.
Game Three: NH Avs vs. Hershey Jr. Bears (Pennsylvania)
Okay, I try to be honest as a rule, and this game was as peculiar as I can remember. Us lifelong Bruins fans don’t have much use for players that go down like a sack of potatoes falling off of a cart, every time there is physical contact. Need we be reminded that hockey is under the category of physical sports. I don’t mean to get any other fan bases riled up here, I am just setting up the summary of the Avalanche vs. Hershey contest.
The Avalanche had their first power-play chance right out of the gate as they went on the advantage just 79 seconds into the contest. They would not score. As a matter of fact, it’s actually hard to believe that the opening period ended up with the Bears only clinging to a 1-0 lead. I’ll try to explain with some show-and-tell. Before the show part, I will tell you that the team from New Hampshire took 8 consecutive penalties, totaling 24 minutes, in less than a 10-minute span in the opening period. That doesn’t even sound mathematically possible! But I counted them, watched them, and re-watched them. Ugh. Yes, I am from New Hampshire. Yes, I was pulling for the Avalanche in all of these games. Yes, I take hockey seriously, as I do the coverage of it. So here’s some of what I saw.
I can’t imagine being in the rink for this game because I probably would have inwardly lost my mind. It was hard enough to watch all of the video. New Hampshire played very well in spurts, and then disappeared in others. After the uphill battle of the opening period, it was a wonder there was any fight left in them.
Alright, Avs score to tie the game on a standard looking 3-on-2 rush. Griffin Gagne delivered a perfect pass from the right-wing to a cutting Eric Keilty between the circles. Jacob Rioux trailed the play in the slot as Keilty’s redirection of the pass from Gagne gave the Avs the tying goal, at 1-1. Late in the middle period, the Avs would tie the game again, this time at 2-2. The goal was deflected into the net by Jack McDonough after Jacob Rioux and Jay Roberto set the play up. The period would end with the score tied 2-2.
The Avalanche took a 3-2 lead when Noah Charron won an offensive zone faceoff to Jacob Rioux who skated from his right-wing spot, across the circle towards the slot, and ripped a wrist shot past the goaltender for the go-ahead goal. Hershey tied the game shortly thereafter. Then, Tyler Chipman would score another go-ahead goal set up by Matthew Chorlian and Jack Flanagan. Hershey would tie the game on their 3rd power-play goal of the contest and send the game to overtime. After a five-minute overtime period the game remained tied at 4-4. The game would be decided in a shootout. Hershey scored two times in their five attempts while the Avs only scored once (Jay Roberto) in their five attempts. Hershey got the win, 5-4 in a shootout, but the point earned from the tie in regulation was enough to get the Avs the #1 seed coming out of the 2A National Pool Play, and advancing to the semi-finals. Padraig Capsilas made 11 of 13 saves he faced, while Curtis Wirbal made 14 of 16 saves. Both goaltenders made outstanding saves throughout this game. In some ways, the Avs were lucky to be in this one because the two net-minders were fantastic in some huge moments during this game.
Semi-Final: NH Avs vs. DYHA Jr. Sun Devils (Arizona)
Yes, they play hockey in the desert. The New Hampshire Avalanche were ready to play this semi-final, and that was apparent early and often. Griffin Gagne scored an unassisted goal in the opening minute on an end to end rush. The Avs were off and flying! Less than a minute later after taking a penalty, the Avs scored a shorthanded goal from outside the blue line. Eric Keilty broke up a play in his own end and Eric Langley was right there to grab the loose puck. Langley raced up the right side and let a contested shot go just outside the offensive blue line. Somehow the puck escaped the goaltenders glove and found the net. The Avs led 2-0, in under two minutes. Later in the period, Griffin Gagne used his mastery of the puck to work himself free in the corner and deliver a pass to Noah Charron in the slot. Charron pounded the shot past the goaltender for the goal, to give the Avs a 3-0 lead.
In the second period, it was a lot more of the Avalanche, kind of skating downhill, like, well, like an avalanche. Jack McDonough scored a great goal, to give the Avs a 4-1 lead. Griffin Gagne made the pass out from behind the net to Colin Tracy hustling to the slot. Tracy let a hard shot go, but the goaltender kicked it out. McDonough beat everyone to the rebound and slammed the puck into the open side. A moment later, the Avs struck again. The Avs almost didn’t convert on a 3-on-1, but Griffin Gagne made a mo-look pass to the slot and Jay Roberto buried the goal to give the Avs a 5-1 lead. Seconds later, Colin Tracy kept the puck in the offensive zone with a nice place at the blue line and Eric Langley let a shot go that just went wide. The puck came to the left-wing boards and Tracy pinched in to keep the play alive. Eric Keilty covered the left point for Tracy and Nick Nault manned the right point. Tracy worked the puck free just as Eric Langley circled back to help, and he grabbed the puck, headed for the left-wing circle. As he approached the net, he had Jacob Rioux to his left skating on the goal line. Langley fired and the rebound was right at the goaltender’s pads, but Rioux got their first and tipped the puck in for the goal, giving the Avs a 6-1 lead in the 2nd period.
Finally, the Avalanche capped it off in the final period, to take the lead, and final score, to 7-1. Noah Charron was positioned in the slot and took a pass from Jay Roberto, who received the puck from Jack McDonough. Charron lifted the puck into the net, giving the Avs a 7-1 lead with the goal. The Avs beat the Jr. Sun Devils and advanced to the final against the Maine Moose. Padraig Capsilas made 8 of 8 saves he faced, while Curtis Wirbal made 11 of 12 saves. Both goaltenders were there when the team needed them, and together, they all advance to the finals.
Championship: NH Avs @ Maine Moose (Maine)
Monday, April 10 at 10am
NH Avalanche 18U – 2017 Roster
|#1||Padraig Capsalis||G – Salem|
|#3||Jack McDonough||F – Bedford|
|#4||Matthew Chorlian||D – Concord|
|#6||Eric Langley||D – Man. Memorial|
|#7||Jack Flanagan||D – Bedford|
|#8||Tyler Chipman||F – Trinity|
|#10||Colin Tracy||D – Bow|
|#13||Jay Roberto||F – Bedford|
|#15||Daniel LeBell||D – Concord|
|#16||Griffin Gagne||F – Bedford|
|#17||Eric Keilty||F – St. Thomas|
|#18||Noah Charron||F – Goffstown|
|#24||Jacob Rioux||F – Bedford|
|#31||Curtis Wirbal||G – Berwick|
|#37||Jared Zeichick||D – Bishop Guertin|
|#66||Nickolas Nault||D – Goffstown|
As you may, or may not, know, I do have a passion for covering hockey here. Especially, Goffstown High School hockey, but also much about hockey in New Hampshire. It just so happens that these National Championships are full of high school players from around the country, including NH. Goffstown High School is represented by Nick Nault and Noah Charron on the NH Avalanche 18U team, and Griffin Cook on the Manchester Flames 16U team. As I covered Goffstown Hockey over the last two seasons, I got to see a lot of other players around the state as well. I watched games in the Christmas Tournament as well as the NHIAA tournaments, in Divisions I and II, and I started to learn more about this NH Avalanche 18U team. Honestly, if I could have made it work, I would have been out in Michigan covering everything first hand, but this will have to do for now. I hope you enjoy it, and just remember, I write these because with me, it’s always about the kids. As it should be.
Disclaimer: Okay, HockeyTV has not yet embraced the idea of offering/sharing clips and highlights for free, as a selling point to get more subscriptions to watch live games. So, it would cost some money to watch games, highlights, clips, etc.
Believe it or not, you can watch these games online. Register with HockeyTV, subscribe (it does cost something), and you will have access to any games you want, in any of the sites. My profile on HockeyTV is 1inawesomewonder. You can follow me on the site if you subscribe, and I have compiled video clips, or highlights, of the goals scored by the NH Avalanche 18u team during game play on Thursday through Sunday, April 6-9. I have posted the links (in the game recaps) to each video, but you cannot see them without a subscription. If you have a subscription with HockeyTV, then you can follow me, and see the clips to all of the goals.