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.”
“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.”
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