POTSDAM - A united effort carried the Potsdam Ice Storm 16U girls hockey team to a second straight New York State AHA Tier II championship on Sunday at Pine Street Arena.
This is just a great group to work with. They always work hard in practice and in games. Theyre always supporting each other and they work really well together, said coach Mike Grant after the Ice Storm outlasted the Lysander Lightning 2-1 to earn a second consecutive trip to the USA Hockey National Tier II Tournament where they will look to improve on last years third-place showing in Irving, Texas.
This years nationals are slated for San Jose, California the first week in April.
Were going there with some real confidence this year. We have half the team back and the older players have done a great job blending in with the younger ones, noted Grant. We lost by one goal in the semi-finals last year. After coming that close, now that were going back, the girls are really hungry for it that much more.
In Sundays win over a Lysander squad which featured many players from the team that won the national Tier II 14U championship two years ago, the Ice Storm surrendered the first goal before battling back for the win.
After a scoreless first period that saw the Ice Storm survive three Lysander power plays, the Lightning struck for the opening goal 4:16 into the second period when a shot from the left point by Catherine Rood found its way into the back of the net through a scramble at the top of the crease. Mariesa Cozza earned the lone assist.
The Ice Storm, who trailed despite building a 15-8 edge in shots to that point, finally broke through for the equalizer when Natalie Giglio skated in from the right point to take a centering pass from the left slot by teammate Kalie Grant and made no mistake wristing a shot into the left side of the net at the 6:56 mark. Shannon Casey also earned an assist on the tying goal.
A tight-checking third period saw the teams combine to produce just 11 shots but the Ice Storm managed to notch the game-winner with 3:51 left in regulation when Ally Miller ended a long rush up the right wing by sliding a pass back to Casey breaking toward goal from the left point.
I saw Ally get the puck into the corner and I just tried to get open. She saw me and made a perfect pass. I saw an opening and I had the shot so I just took it, Casey recalled. It felt great to score the goal and it feels great to be going to California to play hockey.
If we keep practicing the way we have been and we keep playing the way we have been, I think we should do well.
Maddi Dillabough was steady between the pipes for the Ice Storm, turning aside 16 of the shots she faced for her third win of the weekend while Kristin Knaul made 26 saves for the Lightning.
I was happy with our effort, said Lysander coach Alan White. We were in the game right down to the wire and we had our chances. It was a great game.
The Ice Storm went undefeated through the preliminary round with wins over the Buffalo Stars-Hornets (5-0), Lysander (6-3) and the Webster Lady Cyclones (8-0) before outlasting the Brewster Lady Bulldogs 2-1 in overtime in the semi-finals to advance to the championship game. Lysander sandwiched wins over Webster (4-0) and the Stars-Hornets (3—0) around their loss to the Ice Storm. The Lightning edged the Buffalo Regals 3-2 in their semi-final matchup.
Ice Storm 5, Stars-Hornets 0: In their tournament opener Friday night, Bailey Dillabough and Lydia Cosgrove anchored the winning effort with two goals each. Ally Miller netted the other goal while Kirstin Barkley, Mia Jermano and Emily Wilmshurst all tallied solo assists.
Allie Compeau handled the 15 shots she faced backstopping the shutout while Mikaela Ditonto posted 23 saves in he losing cause.
Ice Storm 6, Lightning 3: The first meeting of the weekend between the eventual finalists saw the Ice Storm generate the final three goals of the game for the Saturday morning win. Kalie Grant and Miller fashioned two goals and an assist each. Barkley (1 assist) and Dillabough accounted for the other goals while Kelsey Green logged a solo helper.
Brianna Barbiarz, Rainy Johannessen and Julia Brazo each tallied a goal and assist for the Lightning.
Maddi Dillabough turned aside 10 shots working the crease in the win. Kristin Knaul recorded 18 shots in the losing cause.
Ice Storm 8, Lady Cyclones 0: The preliminary round closed on a high-scoring note for the Ice Storm as they built a 3-0 lead by the end of the first period then broke the game open with four more goals in the second. Dillabough anchored the offense with a pair of goals. Grant chipped in a goal and three assists while Shannon Casey, Cosgrove and Barkley all finished with a goal and assist. Jenny Tardelli and Miller struck for the other goals. Kelley Paduano and Green chipped in solo assists.
Compeau had 10 saves in posting her second shutout of the tournament while Brianne Evevsky stopped 23 shots for the Lady Cyclones.
Ice Storm 2, Lady Bulldogs 1 (OT): In the second Sunday morning semi-final, Dillabough finished off a play set up by Natalie Giglio with 3:48 left in overtime to lift the Ice Storm past the Lady Bulldogs.
Kelsey Fee opened the scoring for Brewster with an unassisted goal just 1:34 into the game. Cosgrove pulled the Ice Storm with an unassisted second-period goal.