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Colonials and Avalanche advance to Tier I quarterfinals

Release Date : 04/02/2016

ANCHORAGE, AK/SAN JOSE, CA – The 14U New Jersey Colonials and the 18U North Jersey Avalanche advanced out of pool play and into the quarterfinals on the third day of the 2016 Toyota/USA Hockey Tier I National Championships.

The 16U Avalanche closed out pool play with a hard-fought victory over number one-ranked Victory Honda.

At 14U, a first-period tally ended up as the only goal of the game and the Colonials fell to the Boston Jr. Eagles, 1-0. The Colonials would reach the quarterfinals by virtue of the Buffalo Jr. Sabres shootout victory over the Los Angeles Jr. Kings, 2-1, which allowed the Colonials to claim the pool’s second seed.

At 16U, a three-goal, third period, was the difference as the Avalanche came back from deficits of 2-0, and 3-2, to down Victory Honda, 5-3.

At 18U, first-period goals by Brendan Ondick (New Hope, Pa.) and Nicholas Fea (Oak Ridge, N.J.) were more than enough for the Avalanche, as they downed the Sioux Falls Stampede, 4-0, to reach the 18U quarterfinals.

How it happened: Connor Joyce scored 5:12 into the first period, giving the Eagles a 1-0 lead. It would prove to be the only marker needed as Henry Wilder made 21 saves in shutting the Colonials’ offense down.

Matt Schoer (Long Valley, N.J.) was outstanding in net for the Colonials, making 27 saves.

The Jr. Eagles did not allow a goal against during round-robin play.

The Colonials were kept on ice, waiting for three games to complete to learn if they’d advance to the quarterfinals, before watching the Jr. Sabres down the Jr. Kings to advance New Jersey to the next round.

After seeing their 2015-16 season come to a close after a 4-2 loss to the San Jose Jr. Sharks on Friday afternoon, the 16U Avalanche watched as Victory Honda jumped out to a 2-0 lead after the first period.

Playing for only pride, the Avs showed the resiliency they showed in winning the Atlantic District championship and the prestigious Tier I Elite Hockey League championship, and did not allow Victory Honda to increase its lead any further, despite heavy pressure in front of netminder Justin Robbins (Alpine, N.J.).

A pair of second-period, powerplay goals from Scotty Osani (Valley Stream, N.Y.) and Matthew Cameron (Berwyn, Pa.) tied the score at 2. Victory Honda would reclaim the lead near the end of the second frame, as Hunter Payment beat Robbins, with his own goal with the extra skater, giving Victory Honda a 3-2 lead at the intermission.

Facing the possibility of a winless showing in pool play, the Avalanche offense finally took over with three goals in a 6:00 span. Tyler Gratton (Pottstown, Pa.) began the flurry with his first goal of the tournament at 7:44. Cameron would add his second powerplay goal of the game, just 57 seconds later, giving the Avalanche their first lead. Adam Robbins (Alpine, N.J.) would close the scoring at 13:31, giving the Avs a 5-3 advantage.

Robbins made 21 saves in net in picking up his first win of the tournament.

Already knowing that Culver Academy defeated the Mid-Fairfield Junior Rangers earlier in the day, 5-4 in a shootout, the 18U Avalanche entered their final pool play game needing a regulation win to advance.

Ondick’s early first-period goal gave the Avalanche a 1-0 lead and Joshua Sarlo (Lynbrook, N.Y.) took care of the rest, as the Avalanche reached the quarterfinals with a 4-0 victory.

After Ondick’s goal opened the scoring, Fea’s powerplay goal, the first of three scored by the Avalanche with the man-advantage, provided the Avs with a cushion, giving last year’s Silver Medalist the opportunity to open the game up a bit. Patrick Cozzi (Greenlawn, N.Y.) added a powerplay goal of his own to extend the lead in the second. Matthew Kidney (Middletown, N.J.) added a powerplay goal in the third to put the game out of reach.

Sarlo made 17 saves in the shutout victory.

In their words: “The Eagles were really good,” said Colonials’ head coach Noel Rubin. “Matt Schoer was great but we could not find the back of the net. We had some chances, but they played really great.”

“The team responded like they have responded all year,” said Avalanche head coach Mark Lotito. “They played hard against an extremely hard [opponent] and gave up no goals in a must-win game.”

Up next: The Colonials take on the Chicago Mission, winners of Group D, at 12:15 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time) in the quarterfinals. The Mission finished as the second-ranked team in the nation, according to MyHockeyRankings.com. The winners of the High Performance Hockey League, the Mission defeated Thunder AAA Hockey, 5-1, Pittsburgh Penguins Elite, 4-1, and fell to the Mid-Fairfield Junior Rangers, 4-1. The Colonials defeated the Mission, 4-1, on September 25, and the teams tied, 2-2, on September 1, in Toronto.

“I’m excited to be in the final 8,” Rubin added. “My team played three great games. The Mission are a great team and Gino Cavallini is a great coach. It will be a battle!”

If the Colonials win, they will play a 9:00 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time) semifinal matchup.

The 18U Avalanche finished second in Pool C and will take on CCYH Selects (Selects Academy), the winners of Pool D at 1:00 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time) in the quarterfinals. Selects finished the regular season ranked third in the country, according to MyHockeyRankings.com. Selects downed the Anaheim Jr. Ducks, 3-1, the Tampa Scorpions, 4-0, and the Buffalo Jr. Sabres, 7-1, in pool play. The teams did not meet in the regular season.

“Selects is a very good team with a good skill set across the board,” Lotito added. “They play hard, have a very good goaltender. It will be a very good game.”

If the Avalanche are victorious, they will play a 10:00 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time) semifinal matchup.

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