In the final youth hockey tournament for most of the DYHA U18 AA Jr. Sun Devils’ players, the Midgets captured a bronze medal on the biggest possible stage.
The team went 2-2-0 at USA Hockey’s U18 Tier 2 2A National Championships in East Lansing, Michigan earlier this month, reaching the semi-finals of the nation’s premier championship event.
A crucial tournament opening victory set the Jr. Devils on their way, as their 3-1 defeat of the Alaska Wolves placed them at the top of their group after the first day of action.
An evenly-matched first period finally saw a goal when Haden Shevalier took a Jacob Nickerson pass and found the back of the net a little more than 12 minutes into the game.
DYHA goalie Barrett Rosser kept the Wolves off the board through the first two frames, recording 32 saves in the first 34 minutes, and 35 in the game.
After the second period ice cut, it didn’t take long for the Jr. Devils to extend their lead; goals from Anthony Masanotti and Brendan Nall came within 12 seconds of one another, allowing DYHA to open up a 3-0 lead. A late goal from Levi Hensley was all the Wolves could mustard, as the Midget’s defense held firm to claim the team’s first three points of the weekend.
In their second group game, the Jr. Devils faced a must taller task against eventual finalists, the Maine Moose. Despite limiting Maine to just 30 shots in the game, two-goal performances from Jackson Aldrich and Cody Doyon helped the Moose knock off the Jr. Devils 7-1.
Shevalier registered his second goal of the tournament in the loss, as the Midgets slipped to 1-1-0, and faced a must-win third group stage game.
Both DYHA and the Chesterfield Falcons could have clinched a semi-final appearance with a win in the preliminary round finale. Chesterfield got on the board first, thanks to a short-handed Nicholas Corker goal early in the second period. However, Evan Shupe leveled the score with a goal of his own later in the period.
A Dalton Graves goal late in the second looked like it would give the Falcons a 2-1 lead going into the third, but Turner Stansbury buried a goal in the final minute of the period to re-tie the game at 2-2 at the break.
It was Stansbury who again lit the lamp in the third, scoring the game-winning goal less than four minutes into the frame. Rosser was forced to make just 11 saves during the game, and stopped every shot that came his way late to help the Jr. Devils hold on for the win.
With a 2-1-0 group stage record, earning DYHA six points, the Jr. Devils advanced to the semi-finals as the American group 2-seed, drawing them against the New Hampshire Avalanche.
Despite three first period goals from the Avalanche, Masanotti notched a goal late in the period to keep the Jr. Devils afloat.
Kevin Church played his role in net for DYHA, making 39 saves in the game. However, the Avalanche scored three quick goals in the middle of the second period to put the game out of reach, eventually eliminating the Midgets with a 7-1 victory.
However, the highlight of the DYHA trip came in the loss’ post-game ceremony, when the players and coaches were awarded bronze medals for their semi-final appearance.
With many of the team’s players seeing their USA youth hockey eligibility expire with the end of the season, the medal made a perfect conclusion to a terrific season, and even better hockey careers.
DYHA would like to congratulations all the players, coaches, and families who sacrificed all year to make the organization proud, and for their accomplishment on the national scale.