U10 and U12 teams from all over opened USA International Hockey Cup tourney play this weekend at the Schwan Super Rink. Some teams entered as a team that practiced and played together; some teams entered a group of girls that were qualified as part of their program. The West Coast Select team entered in the International Cup is composed of girls
that were qualified under the Select Program evaluation and then called and individually asked if they wanted to play in this tourney. The Lake Superior Stars team draws girls from Northern and Western Minnesota. They entered as a team. But both the WCS and the Stars have one common feature, they rarely have team practices.
As part of the WCS program, girls selected will play in an European tourney every year. This year the WCS U12 team won the World Select U12 Tournament held in Prague, Czech Republic, in May. They beat the Czech team in the run up to the Championship Game. They beat the East Coast Selects to win the trophy.
The Stars and the WCS opened their U12 Tier I tourney playing each other in a mid-day game Friday at the Super Rink. The teams played evenly in the opening minutes of the first period. The Stars defense was successful in clearing the puck out of their zone and keeping the WCS’s forwards from setting up and getting the good shot on net. The Stars forwards could not beat the WCS defense at the WCS blue line, often dumping the puck into the WCS zone.
Halfway through the period, the game became transitional with each team attacking the net, the defense clearing to their forwards for a counterattack. Neither team could get the good shot. With 7 minutes left in the first period, the WCS forwards stopped going into the corners against the bigger Stars defense and let the Stars try to pass through the WCS forwards playing across the ice from faceoff circle to faceoff circle. It worked, the WCS started to pick off the Stars passes and set up position trying to hit the forward in the slot in front of the Stars net. But the WCS could not connect. In the last minute of the first period, the Stars goalie Erin Genereau came up with a great save when a bouncing puck ended up on WCS forward’s stick at the top of the crease. The first period ended in a 0-0 tie. It was a fast paced game with few stoppages.
The first two minutes of the second period were the game changer. The first WCS shift off the bench caught the Stars late in the shift changing players. Katreena Whiteye ended up with a solo rush on the Stars net, beating the goalie low and right, to give WCS a 1-0 lead. Megan Roe got the assist. A minute later, the second shift out on the ice, scored for the WCS. Nicole Lamantia got the goal on a one-timer from the slot left set up by neat passes from behind the Stars goal. Megan Johnson and Carlie Magier got assists. Two shifts, two goals, and the WCS led 2-0.
WCS kept building pressure on the Stars defense until the 13 minute mark of the second period. WCS forwards worked a neat 2-on-1 passing combination to the weak side of the Stars’ net only to have the Stars big defenseman Gordy Illilainen takeout the weak side shooter. It was the best defensive play of the day. After that, the game returned to an evenly played game. The Stars had their only power play of the game at the 9 minute mark, but could not establish control in the WCS’s zone. WCS scored a third goal late in the second period. Lamantia got the goal, Magier got the assist. The second period ended with WCS leading 3-0.
The third period started slow, with WCS getting some light pressure. Two minutes into the period, WCS’s Carley Olivier beat the Stars defense at the blue line left and soloed in to score from the slot left beating the goalie on a hard shot to the upper left corner. That ended the scoring with WCS leading 4-0. The Stars got some pressure as the game wound down, but couldn’t score.
The WCS girls (Jessica Smith, Sierra Burt, and Hanna Bates) were still excited about their Czech tourney win in the hallway after their game with the Stars. The fact that they had beaten the Czech team to get to the Championship game was a real thrill for all three girls. Jessica Smith was named MVP at the tourney. Goalie Erica Fryer was rated as the top goalie in the Czech Tourney. When asked about the differences between playing at the International Cup and playing in Prague, the first difference was only one gate on the player’s bench. Climbing over the boards was a must. The second difference was checking was allowed in Europe, they had to play a physical body checking game with against a bigger Czech team. The girls felt they beat the Czech because they moved the puck fast and their passing game was great.
It was fun to be at the Schwan International Cup, but it was “really cool” beating the Czechs in Prague.