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Minnesota teams compete at 2022 USA Hockey Nationals

By Peter Odney , 04/06/22, 5:00PM CDT

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A trio of Minnesota squads took home top honors in the Girls Tier I 14U and 16U Divisions, plus a title at the Tier II 16U level. Photo credit: USA Hockey

GIRLS


Minnesota Grey captured the 2022 16U Tier I Girls national championship with a 5-2 win over RYH BK Selects. Photo credit: USA Hockey.

Tier I Girls 

14U

Minnesota sent two teams to this year’s national tournament, with the Green Giants representing District 10 and the Lakers featuring players hailing from District 6. The Green Giants and the Lakers earned their place at the National Tournament after finishing as the two top teams in this fall’s Minnesota Hockey High Performance Tier I League. 

The Lakers went 3-0 in pool play, concluding the opening round of play with wins over Team North Dakota 3-0, the Mid Fairfield Connecticut Stars 3-0, and Pittsburgh Penguins Elite 4-1. The perfect record was spoiled by a 4-1 loss to Assabet Valley in the quarterfinal round. Taylor Lesnar, a freshman at Holy Angels, led the Lakers in scoring with three assists and four points in the four games. 

The Green Giants managed a 2-1 record during pool play, topping the Cleveland Lady Barons 5-0 and the Philadelphia Jr. Flyers 7-2 before falling to Little Caesars 2-1 in their final pool play matchup. Facing a 3-0 Team Illinois squad in the Saturday quarterfinals, the Green Giants finally penetrated Team Illinois’s outstanding goaltending, putting four away for a 4-0 victory. Later in the day, the Green Giants scored three times in the third period against Assabet Valley to avenge their Minnesota counterparts, defeating the Patriots 5-2. 

Championship Monday pitted the Green Giants against powerhouse Chicago Mission. Andover’s Amelia McQuay and Maya Engler scored in the first and second periods, respectively, and goaltender Lauren Lafferty allowed just one goal late in the third period to earn her third victory in three starts.

During the National Tournament, Lafferty finished with a 0.94 goals-against-average to go along with a .960 save percentage and two shutouts. Engler paced the Green Giants in scoring with eight goals and 10 points, followed by fellow Andover Huskies Hannah Christenson with nine points and Courtney Little with eight points. 

16U

Minnesota Grey began 16U Tier I play with shutouts over Florida Alliance and Belle Tire, then capped pool play with a 6-1 win over the Philadelphia Jr. Flyers to enter the quarterfinals with a 3-0 record, having outscored those opponents 14-1. 

The winning continued in the playoff rounds with a thrilling 6-5 shootout win over the East Coast Wizards, followed by an exhausting overtime victory over Shattuck-St. Mary’s by a score of 3-2. Minnesota Grey found smoother sailing in the national title game, picking up a 5-2 win over RYH BK Selects out of New York. 

Minnetonka’s Grace Sadura, who scored the game-winner in the overtime victory over Shattuck-St. Mary’s, finished with a team-high six points on three goals and three assists. Behind Sadura were Hill-Murray’s Ellah Hause, Sadura’s Skipper teammate Lindzi Avar, and Edina’s Hannah Halverson with five points apiece. Every skater on the Minnesota Grey roster recorded at least one point during the tournament. 

Hill-Murray’s Jiahui Zhan and Holy Family Catholic’s Sedona Blair split the goaltending duties for Minnesota Grey, each contributing mightily to the team’s championship. 

19U 

A seesaw performance saw Minnesota Vegas go 2-2 at the National Tournament, alternating between wins and losses. A 1-0 win over the Connecticut Polar Bears was followed by a 7-5 loss to eventual national champion Little Caesars. Minnesota Vegas cruised past the Alaska All-Stars 8-2 to earn a spot in the quarterfinals, but was put away by the Philadelphia Jr. Flyers 5-3. 

Andover’s Ella Boerger led the team in scoring with two gold and six points, while Minnetonka defender Josie Hemp notched a pair of goals and five total points. Rounding out the leading scorers was Blake’s Suzy Higuchi with five assists. 


Ella Boerger, shown here competing for Andover during the 2021-2022 high school season, led the 19U MN Vegas squad with six total points in four games.

16U 

Premier Prep Purple polished off Minnesota’s hat trick of championships, winning four consecutive games to earn top honors in the 16U Division. 

Losses to the Adirondack North Stars (5-2) and the Bay State Breakers (4-1) put Premier Prep Purple in an 0-2 early, but resiliency became Purple’s calling card down the stretch. A 7-2 win over the Casco Bay Mariners got Purple in the win column. A major upset over the East Coast Wizards 3-2 in overtime sent Purple to the semifinals, where revenge tasted sweet in a 2-1 win over the Breakers. 

Against the Arizona Kachinas, Maple Grove’s Caitlin Coughlin tallied the game-winning goal of Purple’s 3-2 overtime win in the national championship game, capping a remarkable turnaround for Purple after opening with two losses. Lakeville South’s Brynn O’Neill finished tied for fifth among all skaters with five goals and seven points.

Premier Prep Vegas eased through pool play with wins over the Adirondack 46ers, the Mid Fairfield Connecticut Stars, and the Connecticut Polar Bears. Vegas’s run ended in the quarterfinals after a 1-0 loss to the Arizona Kachinas. Delano goaltender Kayla Simonson finished third among all goaltenders with a .966 save percentage. 

19U 

Premier Prep Royal finished its national tournament run with a record of 2-2, starting with a 6-2 in over the Syracuse Valley Eagles. A 4-3 loss to Little Caesars followed, but an 8-5 win over the Nashville Predators kept Royal afloat until a 6-4 loss to the East Coast Wizards, ending Royal’s national title hopes. Champlin Park/Coon Rapids standout Molly Terebayza led Royal in scoring with six goals and eight points in four games. 

Premier Prep White faired no better in its four contests, finishing with an identical 2-2 record in the same win/loss rotation as Premier Prep White. 

Game one went to White in a 3-2 victory over the Grand Rapids Griffins, and game two went to the Connecticut Northern Lights in a 2-0 loss. A 9-0 win over the Boston Shamrock Wings was followed by a heartbreaking 4-3 loss against Little Caesars. North Wright County product Sydney Petersen led White with five goals and 11 points, good for second among all skaters in the field. 

BOYS


Nick Carls, 14U Green Giants

Tier II Boys 

Centennial’s Nick Carls led the 14U Green Giants, competing in Division 3A of the Tier II nationals, with five of the team’s nine goals, as the District 10 representatives went 1-2 in Kalamazoo. After a 6-1 win over the CCYHA Blue Jackets, the Green Giants lost to the Chicago Jets 5-2 and the eventual champion North Jersey Kings 4-1. 

The 18U Grey Ducks went the opposite route of the 14U Green Giants, losing their first pool play game 10-1 against the Green Bay Bobcats. The Grey Ducks rebounded with a 5-4 shootout win over the Clearwater Ice Storm and a dramatic 3-2 win over the Chicago Jets. A 6-3 loss to the Arizona Bobcats in the quarterfinals ended the Grey Ducks’ run. 

Mankato East’s Aiden Prochaska led the Grey Ducks in scoring with six assists and eight total points over the weekend. 


Mankato East/Loyola's Aiden Prochaska led the 18U Grey Ducks in scoring during last weekend's national tournament.

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