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Thunder Bantam Boys, Ice Storm 16U Girls open Nationals with wins


The Northern Zone champions went two-for-three on the opening day of their respective USA Hockey Tier II National Tournaments on Wednesday.

The St. Lawrence Thunder Bantam Boys and the Potsdam Ice Storm 16U Girls skated to contrasting wins while the St. Lawrence Thunder 14U Girls were dealt a hard-fought loss. All three New York State champions will be back in action with preliminary round games later today.


At the Tier II 14U Nationals in Charlotte, North Carolina, the Thunder Bantams rallied from a pair of two-goal deficits en route to claiming a 4-3 decision over the Pittsburgh Predators in the opening game for both squads.

The Predators took early control of the game when goals by Jake Speicher and Eric Cooley just two minutes apart made it 2-0 with 9:24 left in the first period. Kaden Pickering got the Thunder on the board when he finished off a play set up by Wyatt Wilmshurst and Jordan Robert for a power play goal with less than six minutes left in the opening frame.

Kyle Shero restored Pittsburgh’s two-goal lead just 1:15 into the second period before the Thunder battled back to tie the game before intermission. Pickering cut the deficit to 3-2 at the 7:48 mark off an assist from Robert, who pulled the Thunder even when he converted from Wilmshurst for a short-handed goal with 1:15 left.

Shane Cryderman capped the St. Lawrence comeback with just 28 seconds left in regulation after connecting for a power play goal that was set up by Nick Henrie and Robert, who finished with a goal and three assists.

Noah Kormanyos turned aside 19 shots backstopping the win while Hayden Chieffo had 29 saves in the losing cause.

The Thunder Bantams, who are coached by Bobby Smith, will look to continue the momentum of their opening-game win this afternoon when they take on the Montgomery Blue Devils starting at 3:20 p.m. The Blue Devils opened with a 7-2 loss to the Denver University Junior Pioneers. The Thunder take on Denver in their final preliminary round game on Friday at 8 a.m.

Last year’s Thunder Bantams played their way to the national Tier II final last spring before settling for the silver medal.


In San Jose, California, the Ice Storm bolted their way to a 4-0 lead by the first intermission and never looked back in blanking the Steel City Selects 6-0 to open the Tier II 16U Girls Nationals.

Kirstin Barkley struck for the only goal the Ice Storm would need just 2:10 into the game, finishing off a play set up by Ally Miller and Natalie Giglio for a power play tally. Miller went on to generate two goals and two assists, including a shorthanded goal with 3:21 left in the opening period that put the Ice Storm ahead 4-0.

Kalie Grant, who helped set up Miller’s second goal, put the game out of reach with a pair of goals in the second period, the first at the 4:20 mark assisted by Barkley and the second, a shorthanded tally set up by Miller with 52 seconds left.

Maddi Dillabough (4 saves) and Allie Compeau (2 saves) combined to work the Potsdam crease for the shutout. Connor O’Connell stopped 21 shots in the loss.

The Ice Storm, coached by Mike Grant, return to the ice today at noon EDT against the Princeton Tiger Lillies, who opened with a 5-0 loss to the San Jose Junior Sharks. Potsdam closes out the preliminary round on Friday against Grand Rapids at 3:30 p.m. EDT. Grand Rapids outlasted the Chicago Bruins 2-1 in its tournament debut.


Also in San Jose, the Thunder 14U girls got their Tier II tournament off to a disappointing start after giving up a pair of third-period goals in suffering a 3-1 loss to the East Coast Wizards of Massachusetts.

The Wizards jumped out to a quick lead when Piper Higgins connected 1:32 into the game but the Thunder pulled even just 37 seconds into the middle period when Katie MacCuaig broke through for an unassisted goal and the teams skated into the second intermission with the score knotted at 1-1 despite a commanding 20-8 advantage in shots by the Wizards.

A goal by Carmen Braceras put theWizards back in the lead at the 13:45 mark before Emily Devine then sealed the win with an empty-net goal with just 23 seconds left in regulation.

Sidney Molnar stood tall making 24 saves for the Thunder while Cassidy Smith handled 13 shots for the Wizards.

The Thunder, coached by Renee Young, will look to regroup this afternoon when they take on the New Jersey Colonials starting at 6 p.m. EDT. The Colonials blanked the San Jose Junior Sharks 5-0 in their tournament opener. The Thunder close out the preliminary round on Friday against the Nashua Panthers at 9:30 a.m. EDT. The Panthers edged the Naperville Sabres 5-4 in their first matchup.

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