Steel City Ice Renegade’s boys Tier II 16U 3A and Steel City Select girls Tier II 19U 1A hockey teams were not to be denied on Monday as they completed title runs at their respective USA Hockey national championships.
Both teams played six games and Ice Renegades finished 5-1, while Selects got a perfect 6-0.
The Ice Renegades claimed their title Monday in Troy, Mich., With a 2-0 win over the previously undefeated Chicago Hawks (5-1), who had scored 27 goals in their five wins up to the championship game.
“It really hasn’t been put in yet, even after the fact,” said goalkeeper Tyler Lang, who was also a key member of the Freeport hockey team, which got a spot in this year’s PIHL Class A playoffs.
“It’s great. The biggest thing for this team to win was to use all the experience and adversity throughout the season in the tournaments and other high-level matches to tie the knot and really set the pace for those matches.”
Lang stopped 37 shots in the championship game against the Hawks and helped second-period goals from George Acklin and Matthew Knizner (Delmont / Franklin Regional) rise. Ice Renegades counted a total of 21 shots.
“The Hawks were generally a very good team and their offense was spectacular,” Lang said. “They moved the puck really well. We hung in, played together as a team and also took advantage of our chances.”
In addition to Knizner, other local team members included Ben Chen (Jeannette), Brett Bowser (Murrysville), Colten Humphrey (Greensburg), Damian Dynys (Harrison City), Dante Scalise (Oakmont), Josh Goldberg (Trafford), Liam Alexander (Apollo), Roman Cicco (Export) and Ryan Clinger (Apollo).
Ice Renegades, based on Alpha Ice in Harmarville, which finished the season 57-8-6 overall, scored 16 goals over five national tournament matches and allowed just seven.
Knizner led by four goals in the tournament. He also helped with Acklin’s winner of the championship.
“It was a great feeling to be on the ice after the game to celebrate it,” Ice Renegade coach Patrick Martin said.
“The Chicago team was number 1 all season. We probably only got out of a handful of matches out of the 71 matches we played. The emotions were almost overwhelming. It was hard for me to hold those emotions back at the end of the game. I was just in awe of the kids and the effort they put in throughout the tournament. ”
Martin said this group was determined this season after getting their shots on the national team at 14U level taken from them two years ago.
The team won the Mid-Am District tournament, but the nationals were canceled amid the early stages of the covid pandemic.
“It was hard to see how it was taken from them,” Martin said. “That season, they came together from a number of different organizations with the goal of being able to compete at the national level. It was impressive to see them continue with that goal, sticking together and working hard this year to achieve it. Seeing them win it all was just amazing. ”
Members of Steel City Selects were no strangers to playing games on national teams.
Some of the team members experienced heartache in overtime of the 16U final last year, while the returning 19U players suffered a loss in the national semifinals.
Coach Jim Black said that was the motivation for this year’s group to return to the national tournament and bring home the trophy and banner title.
That was the mission accomplished as the team scored the opponents 15-6 and finished 6-0.
“This is such an amazing group of girls,” Black said. “They love each other and had each other’s backs throughout the season. With this, they will have a common bond forever.”
The team had each other’s backs through the pressured championship game against Arizona Kachinas.
After 51 minutes of goalless regulation, Svetlana Yarosh (Cecil Township / Canon-McMillan) scored on an outburst just 23 seconds into overtime to give Steel City the championship.
Laura Crnarich (Wexford / Pine-Richland) helped with the winner of the game, which sent the team into a festive frenzy.
Steel City, which included local products Lillian Johnson (Natrona Heights), Miranda Naylor (Lower Burrell) and Abigail Manzewitsch (Murrysville), allowed only eight shots in the title game.
“An important thing throughout the season was our commitment to defense,” Black said. “It was all the way through the line-up on the ice. We were below a goal a match from a goal-against-standpoint (51 goals / 54 games). When you have strong goalkeepers and a solid defensive group, it’s easy to build on. that.”
It was the third time in the tournament that Steel City needed extra time to win.
In its round-robin match against Team South Dakota, it won 2-1 on the fifth shooter in a shootout.
Steel City then gathered against the Adirondack (NY) Northstars in the quarterfinals. After 4-2 in the third period, it scored twice to send the match into overtime. Crnarich scored the match winner on assists from Amanda Sokol (Scottdale) and Lillian Relyea (Moon).
“Just having experienced going into overtime really helped the girls get ready for it in the championship game,” Black said. “The nerves were really not there.”
Black was excited to see Manzewitsch, who had missed most of the season with a concussion, win two goalkeeping victories in the national tournament.
Casey Frank (Cranberry Township / Seneca Valley) got the start of the other four games.
Steel City, based from the Baierl Ice Complex in Warrendale, finished the season 44-5-5 and got its ticket to the Nationals with four wins at the Mid-Am District Tournament. It topped rival Armstrong in a shootout final to advance.
“Steel City and Armstrong go back a long way. It’s a big rivalry for 19U Tier II,” Black said. “They usually plan us for the last game because it usually comes down to our two teams.”
Michael Love is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at 724-226-4665, email@example.com or via Twitter