Tag: Jake Anderson

16U Girls Sweep Home Showcase, Continuing Surge into Break

by Matt Gajtka

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — After playing six games in three days the previous weekend in Detroit, maybe taking on three in two days at home felt like a breeze for the Bishop Kearney Selects 16U girls team.

OK, maybe not, but getting a chance to host instead of travel seemed to agree with the Selects, who swept a three-game showcase at Bill Gray’s Iceplex in their final action before the midwinter break.

And while there’s no trophy or banner for the accomplishment, the performance was an encouraging development after a championship-game defeat in the grueling Motor City Girls Fest a week prior.

“Last weekend was really difficult,” said 16Us head coach Jake Anderson. “What this showed for our girls was their ability to keep their level up against a couple of top-10 teams. I was really proud of our group effort and team game.”

The seventh-ranked Selects’ grit was on display all weekend, but especially in a 2-1 overtime win over one of those top-10 teams, the North American Hockey Academy. After BK notched twin 4-1 wins against Gilmour Academy Prep and the Philadelphia Jr. Flyers to open the showcase, the battle against NAHA came down to sudden death.

First-year defender Miami Jones (Chevy Chase, Md.) delivered the game-winner during the 3-on-3 session, taking a pass from Finley McCarthy (Whitefish, Mont.) and roofing a shot from in close.

Not only was it a memorable moment for Jones, but also another key contribution for McCarthy, who is the lone third-year player on the squad.

“Everyone’s role on the team is important to achieve our common end goal of winning nationals,” McCarthy said. “I look at myself as the kid to look to when you have a question about our systems, or need support in a slump.”

Goalie Emeline Grennan (Washington, D.C.) showed out in the weekend’s final game, too, keeping BK behind by just one entering the third period, when, according to Anderson, the team’s “depth and conditioning really showed.”

Emeline Grennan helped the 16Us to a pair of wins over the weekend. (JUSTIN BERL/BK SELECTS)

“It wasn’t one person or one line getting it done,” Anderson continued. “Every game it was someone different, making plays and doing the right things and keeping us going in the right direction.”

Expanding on that, Addison Tremel (Newcastle, Wash.) had her own moment in the Friday victory over Gilmour. The first-year forward scored twice, including one short-handed off an assist from defender Alara Murphy (Musquodoboit Harbour, Nova Scotia) and another on a rebound in front of the net.

Against Philly, McCarthy opened the scoring and Paige Wallace (Huntington, N.Y.) clinched the game in the third, capping a give-and-go with Payton Palsa (Annapolis, Md.).

In between, Michaela Hesova (Hovorčovice, Czechia) stood tall in her lone action of the weekend, including a couple of saves on odd-man opportunities to hold the Flyers at arm’s length — mirroring Grennan’s effort against NAHA.

“We talk about consistency, fighting through when it’s not going our way,” Anderson said.

By the time Jones’ shot hit the net to topple NAHA, the 16Us improved to 9-1 in their past 10 and 42-12-5 for the season. If all goes according to plan, the team has a possible 11 games remaining, encompassing the upcoming state tournament and nationals.

“I am confident when saying that we on the team are all committed to each other’s success,” McCarthy said. “Our off-ice bond has contributed tremendously to our on-ice performance. The idea of playing for the girl next to you has truly resonated through our team over the past seven months.”

Anderson said the team will focus on skill development in practice this week before the team heads home for a week away from BK.

The state tournament is the next challenge, on March 4-6. It’ll be do-or-die then, with five other teams vying for the title and a trip to nationals.

“With a training-focused break, I’m sure our practices before the state tournament will be high-energy,” McCarthy said. “Seeing each other again, combined with the excitement of playoff hockey, we will surely be ready to perform in these big upcoming moments.

“We have everything it takes to finish the season on top.”

The author can be reached at matt.gajtka@gmail.com for story tips and feedback.

Masters of Motown: 19Us Claim Second Title of Season in Detroit

by Matt Gajtka

FRASER, Mich. — It’s not often a team gets a second chance at knocking off No. 1, but on Sunday afternoon at Big Boy Arena, the BK Selects 19Us had such an opportunity.

After falling 3-2 to top-ranked Little Caesars on Friday in the round-robin portion of the Motor City Girls Fest, the Selects struck back against the powerhouse Detroit-based program with a 3-0 victory in the championship game, earning their second tournament title of the 2021-22 season.

“When the chips were on the table and there was a championship at stake,” said 19Us head coach Paul Colontino, “the way our team responded was exceptional.”

Ava McNaughton (Wexford, Pa./Wisconsin) earned her fourth shutout of the weekend in the title tilt, stopping 37 Little Caesars shots. Due to an injury to Chloe Lewis (Monson, Mass.), McNaughton had to go it alone in what ended up being a six-game marathon.

“Little Caesars is always a physical, high-pressure game,” McNaughton said. “On Sunday, all I could think about was doing whatever I could for the team. I didn’t really realize how tired and sore I was until the bus ride after.”

In fact, McNaughton didn’t let a single goal in during the playoff portion of the tournament, as the eighth-ranked Selects (33-11-3) knocked out two other Michigan teams in Belle Tire (1-0 in the quarterfinals) and Honeybaked (3-0 in the semis).

“I loved how every player stepped up this weekend,” McNaughton said. “Every player put it all on the line for the team. It allowed us to come up with huge plays, whether it be penalty kills, power plays, blocked shots, big saves or outlasting an opponent’s pressure.

“It was super-exciting to see our team play better and better every game. To win the championship against a team we had lost to earlier was very fulfilling.”

Bella Vasseur (Waitsfield, Vt./Wisconsin) was similarly productive under the bright lights, scoring the Selects’ first (and only) goal against Belle Tire with a solo spinning effort, followed by a hard wrister from her off-wing against Honeybaked to put BK on top early in that one, too.

Much like the team, Vasseur rebounded from round-robin disappointment, as she was stopped on a last-minute penalty shot in the first meeting with Little Caesars.

“I was very excited,” said Vasseur about the chance to play Little Caesars with everything on the line. “It’s always a great game when we play them, and I knew the outcome was going to be different.

“It was a big revenge game.”

Vasseur also assisted on a Peyton Compton (Sanford, Fla./Northeastern) rebound goal in the championship game, pushing the 19Us on top first yet again. They would require no further offense, although insurance was certainly welcomed against the nation’s top team.

Laila Edwards (Cleveland Heights, Ohio/Wisconsin) followed up her own breakaway for a 2-0 advantage, then Izzy Krause (Calabasas, Calif.) finished a two-on-one rush for the final goal, going far side after Vanessa Stamper (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.) broke up a play in the neutral zone.

“The biggest thing was that we played as a team,” Vasseur said. “We worked as a team, had a lot of energy, and had a lot of fun doing it.”

Edwards scored a pair of goals on Sunday, deking around the Honeybaked goalie for a two-goal lead in the semifinal. She assisted on the victory-capper off the stick of Kendall Butze (Shaker Heights, Ohio/Penn State) as well.

But by the time the final buzzer sounded against Little Caesars, the details blurred into the background. The Selects poured off the bench to mob McNaughton and pose next to a banner that’ll look great next to the one they earned in Nashville back in the fall.

“Three days with two games per day, it’s a marathon,” Colontino said. “You need the depth of a team to do it. We were in a great position come Sunday to be fresh for the first game and then outwork our opponent in the final.”

The 19Us celebrate their Motor City Girls Fest title over Little Caesars. (RICH COMPTON/BK SELECTS)

The eighth-ranked 16Us (37-11-5) came this close to duplicating the 19Us’ feat, falling 3-2 to the Chicago Young Americans in a back-and-forth final.

Jake Anderson’s squad had outscored its first five opponents in the event by a combined total of 23-1, culminating in a 2-0 semifinal victory over Belle Tire. The highest-ranked team in the 16U bracket, No. 5 Little Caesars, had fallen to Belle Tire in the quarterfinal round

“That was probably our best game,” Anderson said of the semi. “First two periods, we came out flying, weren’t giving them anything, moving the puck and playing well in the O-zone. It was good for us to control the whole thing.

“We were able to use the depth of our team. We raised the level as the weekend went on and got through the semifinal game.”

Angela DiGiorlamo (Woburn, Mass.) scored five goals in the three-game playoff round, while Finley McCarthy (Whitefish, Mont.) piled up a handful of points over those same games.

In goal, the 16Us alternated evenly between Emeline Grennan (Washington, D.C.) and Michaela Hesova (Hovorčovice, Czechia), with each earning two shutouts. Anderson said Hesova played well in the championship despite the loss, while Grennan was “awesome” in the semifinal.

“We just tried to focus on trying to get better every game,” Anderson said. “We wanted to get into the tournament and get everyone going. Now, can we play a little bit better, tighten this up and keep working.”

Along with the 19Us, the 16Us will stay in Rochester this weekend as they host a three-game showcase.

The author can be reached at matt.gajtka@gmail.com for story tips and feedback.

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.”