Tag: Featured

Ahead of Motor City Tourney, Girls Teams Combine for Sweep in Buffalo

by Matt Gajtka

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Peyton Compton (Sanford, Fla.) had an opportunity to change the game. 

Suffice it to say, she took advantage of it.

Compton’s spectacular tying goal gave the BK Selects 19Us a timely lift Friday at Nichols Ice Rink, where they earned a 4-1 victory over Gilmour Academy Prep in the team’s lone game of the weekend.

With the Selects down a goal in the first period, Compton gathered the rebound of her own short-handed breakaway miss and immediately went back to work. Charging out of her strong-side corner on her backhand, the right-handed shooter pulled the puck between her legs for a crafty forehand finish as she approached the crease.

“I asked her, ‘What gave you the idea to do that?’ “ 19U head coach Paul Colontino said. “It’s a shame we couldn’t get that on video.”

After a scoreless second period, the eighth-ranked Selects (35-11-3) pounced for a three-goal third, starting with the eventual game-winner from Caroline Kee (McLean, Va.). 

Defender Kendall Butze (Shaker Heights, Ohio) scored a pair of goals late in regulation to cap off the win, while Chloe Lewis (Easthampton, Mass.) and Eva McNaughton (Seven Fields, Pa.) split the duties in net.

Colontino said he was pleased with the performance, which followed up a four-game gauntlet the previous weekend — three of those against Shattuck St. Mary’s. On top of that, several players were missing from practice during the week due to both illness and midterm exams.

The BK Selects will face Gilmour for the third time this season next weekend in greater Detroit as part of the Motor City Girls Fest. That’ll be the final chance for the 19Us to experience a heavy workload before the district tournament begins in a few weeks.

“We’ve had a nice mix of opponents, playing just about very top team in the country,” Colontino said. “We’ve learned a lot and seen steady improvement throughout the season.”

16U forward Angelina DiGirolamo (Woburn, Mass.) drives the net vs. Nichols School on Friday, Jan. 28, 2022. (BK SELECTS)

It was a similar story for the 16U girls, who beat Nichols School, 3-1, earlier Friday afternoon. The result was reversed from the previous time the teams met in early December, down to the exact final score.

In their final game action before their own trip to the Motor City Girls Fest, the 16Us (37-11-5) got a goal and an assist from Finley McCarthy (Whitefish, Mont.) and single tallies from Morgan Walton (Geneseo, N.Y.) and defender Ashley Mandeville (Pascoag, R.I.) in building a 3-0 lead through two periods.

The Selects committed multiple penalties in the third as Nichols cut the margin to two, but head coach Jake Anderson was bullish after the win, which boosted his team to 5-2-1 since the holiday break.

“We got a little undisciplined in the third, but we’re really close to where we need to be,” said Anderson, in his second season helming the 16Us. “Things we do most of the time, we have to do every time. I’m proud of how we’ve developed and where we’ve come.”

Michaela Hesova (Hovorčovice, Czechia) earned the win with 15 saves in what Anderson called “the last dress rehearsal” before the Motor City event, which could entail as many as six games in three days.

Detroit Little Caesars, ranked fifth in the nation by MyHockeyRankings, looks to be the stiffest competition for the seventh-ranked 16Us at the tournament, at least on paper.

Regardless, the challenge remains for one of the youngest Tier 1 16U teams in the country to continue to have a growth mindset as the end of the season approaches.

“We have to mature and continue to get better,” Anderson said. “We want to possess the puck and be creative with it. Try to have five players playing offense and play really well in our own end.”

18U Boys Take Lessons, Victory from ‘Heavy, Physical’ Series in St. Louis

by Matt Gajtka

MARYLAND HEIGHTS, Mo. — BK Selects 18U head coach David Arduin admitted his team’s emotions were mixed in its return to the Centene Community Ice Center last weekend.

On one hand, last year’s BK Selects 16U squad played a national semifinal game at the facility, a remarkable achievement in the program’s first year.

On the other hand, Arduin’s former squad, the North Jersey Avalanche prevailed that day in overtime on its way to the national title.

For this particular trip to Missouri, the opponent was different and the stakes weren’t as high, but the challenge was still eye-opening for BK Selects as they went 1-2 in a three-game series against the St. Louis AAA Blues.

And much like last year, the team could look at both sides of the coin when it came to results.

The Blues, ranked No. 4 entering the weekend by MyHockeyRankings, won 2-1 on Friday and 4-1 on Saturday before fifth-ranked BK Selects (34-12-4) punched back with a 4-2 win Sunday.

“At this time of the year, you want to keep finding out about your team,” Arduin said afterward. “We learned some invaluable lessons.”

Jaden Dyke (St. Johns, Newfoundland) notched a goal and an assist in the Sunday win, which was played on the facility’s outdoor rink, ‘The Barn.’ Dyke scored in all three games and finished with two goals and two assists on the weekend.

Charlie Major (Marcellus, N.Y.) assisted on three goals Sunday, while Hans Ulvebne (Oslo, Norway) scored a goal and set up another. Goalies Steven Reganato (Holbrook, N.Y.) and Jack Fialkoff (New York, N.Y.) split Sunday’s game in half after each played a full game earlier in the series.

Arduin said he felt his team made some progress against what he called a “heavy, physical team” in the Blues (29-6-0). To that end, he and his staff instituted a “three-and-three rule” before the series to focus on winning puck battles in order to let their skill translate.

“If you’re three feet from the boards or from the net,” Arduin said, “your only thought is how to win the battle and get the puck in a better spot on the ice for your teammates. Once you win the battle, that’s when we’re at our best.

“It was hard to play at the kind of pace and skill we’re accustomed to, but we’re going to run into more mature teams and we’re going to have to find a way to adapt to that.”

Arduin lauded John Kneidel (Dublin, Ohio) for his leadership over the weekend, particularly when it came to withstanding the physical stress a team like the Blues can dole out.

“John was consistently the hardest-working player who wins all the battles and establishes a physical presence,” Arduin said. “He was showcased (on a weekend) when we had a hard time in these areas. He was the heartbeat of the team.”

Blues coaches — and former NHLers — Jeff Brown and Kelly Chase also noted the poise of BK Selects captain Jack Henry (Auburn, N.Y.).

“They said, ‘Wow, that No. 77 plays with confidence,’ “ Arduin said. “‘It doesn’t look like he has a pulse out there.’ “

The U18s travel to Indiana next weekend to face 21st-ranked Culver Academies Prep (13-14-0) in a two-game series. Friday’s faceoff is set for 8 p.m. Eastern with the rematch Saturday at noon.

With the schedule ahead of them getting thin, Arduin said he’s focused on form as the team nears the end of a successful first season of play. The BK Selects started 6-7-1 but are 28-5-3 since the final week of September.

“It’s exceeded my expectations, for sure,” Arduin said. “We’re looking for consistency, first and foremost, and a belief in that we’re doing the right things. Understanding it’s a long season and using the losses as an opportunity to grow.”