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Timberwolves Squirts complete banner season with USA Hockey Regional Tournament win

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BRASHER FALLS - The Tri-Town Timberwolves Squirt team relayed the New York State Tier III 12&Under Championship into top honors at the USA Hockey Northeastern Regional Tournament this past weekend in Essex, Vermont.

“Just like states, we got better as the tournament went on,” said coach Chris Rose as the Timberwolves brought home the highest honor ever for Tri-Town Minor Hockey after going 5-0 against the five other New England state champions they faced. “We watched all the teams play and we thought we matched up pretty well against all of them. The kids just played great the whole weekend.”

After news of the regional championship win spread through the Tri-Town community, a warm welcome was organized and staged Sunday night. The Timberwolves were met at the high school by three vehicles from the local fire deparment and escorted to their home rink.

“They had the lights flashing and the sirens going off on the trucks and people were coming out of their houses and waving. When we got to the arena, we had close to 200 people there to cheer the kids on. It was pretty cool,” noted Rose.

The Timberwolves dominated their rivals over the weekend, outscoring their five opponents 23-4 and skating to three shutouts.

They wasted no time setting the tone for their tournament success, connecting just 19 seconds into their first game on Friday en route to claiming a 2-0 decision over the Framingham Junior Flyers of Massachusetts. Jah Robertson got the opening goal off an assist from Noah Adams. Payton Felix added the insurance goal just 2:41 later by finishing off a play set up by Jarrett St. Hilaire and Matt Delisle.

Rico Dimatteo handled the 16 shots he faced to backstop the shutout.

The Timberwolves returned to the ice early Saturday for a 7 a.m. matchup against a physical Southern Connecticut Stars squads. They built a 2-0 lead in the first period before going on to post a 5-1 win.

Carter Rose opened the scoring from Robertson just 2:10 into the game. Kaleb Rathbun made it 2-0 at the 9:22 mark assisted by Rose.

The Stars got their lone goal seven minutes into the second period before Branden Phippen restored the two-goal advantage by finishing off a play set up by Robertson and Rose with 1:39 left in the middle period.

Logan Shantie and Robertson sealed the win by scoring unassisted goals less than two minutes apart midway through the final period.

Dimatteo made 20 saves working the crease for the win.

Having already clinched a bid to the semi-finals, the Timberwolves went on to wrap up the top seed from their division by doubling the Stowe Raiders of Vermont 6-3 in their final preliminary round game.

Robertson finished with two goals and two assists while Rathbun tallied two goals and one assist as the Timberwolves built a 4-2 lead through two periods. Phippen and Adams netted the other goals while Rose logged two assists. Adams and Felix each recorded solo helpers.

Dimatteo had 12 saves through the first 30 minutes before Torran Robertson came on to post three stops over the last six.

The Timberwolves saved their best hockey for Sunday where they cruised to a 7-0 win over the New Hampshire Avalanche in the semi-finals before going on to blank the Maine Gladiators 3-0 in the title game.

Against New Hampshire, the Timbervolves raced out to a 4-0 lead in the first period starting when Robertson converted from Adams just 50 seconds after the opening face-off. Robertson finished with three goals and an assist while Adams fashioned a goal and assist. Felix struck for a pair of goals. Rathbun had a goal and assist as well while Rose, St. Hilaire, Ryan LaPage, Sidney Guerard and Phippen each earned solo assists.

Dimatteo was counted on to make 14 saves in posting the shutout.

The championship game saw the Timberwolves break through for the only goal they would need at 1:51 of the second period when Robertson finished off a play set up by Phippen and Delisle. Robertson made it 2-0 at the 5:00 mark with a power play goal assisted by Rathbun and Rose before Rathbun put the game out of reach with an unassisted end-to-end goal that rang off both posts before settling across the goalline with 2:28 left in the middle frame.

Dimatteo had 18 stops working the crease for a second straight shutout victory.

“We came out ready to play on Sunday,” noted Rose. “We had a great weekend.”

With the decision at the state and national level to no longer stage tournaments for the 12&Under Division, the 2011-12 Timberwolves will go down as the last Squirt team to claim a state Tier III title and the regional crown.

“It’s definitely been a memorable season,” said Rose.

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