McKinney North Stars 16U AA
McKinney North Stars 16U AA
McKinney North Stars 16U AA
Congratulations to the McKinney North Stars 16u AA team. The team defeated DJHA in a championship series for the second time this year to win the 16u AA DSTHL Playoff Championship to add to their Tier II State Championship.
We are so proud of these young men and their coaches. Going into the season DJHA was the top team on paper by a significant margin with McKinney, the Warriors and the Houston Wild trying to determine who would finish second.
The team started out with a mixed Labor Day tournament, but with a 2-1 win over DJHA, which folks doubted would happen again because we surprised them in a meaningless tournament game. The early season had some good wins, but also saw the team lose to the Warriors 5 to 1 in its second game of the season and then lose in OT to HCD after being up 2 nothing. The team in its next league game against DJHA came back from 2 nothing in the third period to tie it before losing in a shootout. The team hit a snag in December when it lost to Austin in two shootouts in Austin, which made making the playoffs look much more challenging. The team bounced back in January though with a 5-nothing win over HCD and a 4-nothing win over Austin. It then won two crucial games against the Warriors in January, but finished league play with a 5 nothing loss to DJHA.
Through it all, this team stuck together, grew as a team, grew significantly as individual hockey players, and never stopped believing in themselves.
They fought back in the State Championship to win the game with 6 seconds left after DJHA tied the championship game with 46 seconds left.
In the DSTHL championship series yesterday, the team fought a tough DJHA team looking for a win after State's and put everything they had into the first game. Despite getting outshot 31 to 17, the team won the first game 2 nothing, with both goals being scored by Stefan Kruger—the last one being Stefan’s third empty net goal in the last month. Great to see Ryan Hooks get the shutout since he missed the celebrations at the State Championship when he had the flu. This was a hard fought game with McKinney winning the battles in the corner, behind the net and along the boards.
In game two, the team started out flat and saw DJHA take a 3 nothing lead. The team picked it up in the second though and played with their usual level of intensity, but lost game two 4 to 1.
This took the series to a final sudden-death third game. From the puck drop to the winning goal 5:27 later, McKinney never stopped attacking and found a way to have all the momentum. Four shots on goal were recorded in the final mini-game and all of them were by McKinney.
From a faceoff in its own zone, the team got the puck up the ice to the captain, Nate Albers, who tapped the puck up the boards and beat the DJHA player on him. At the bottom of the circle—almost the same spot he shot the State Championship winning goal with 6.8 seconds left—Nate shot the puck and it somehow slipped by the goalie, setting off pandemonium.
It was a great win and a fabulous season. This team came together from the beginning, stuck together as a team, avoided drama and doubts, focused on playing hockey and did some remarkable things on the ice. It will be a season they, as well as their families, will always remember fondly.
Now to step up for more tough competition at Nationals.
Do you believe in miracles? You should because one can happen when it is supported by a whole season of hard work, great coaching, lots of practice ice, great conditioning, outstanding goalie play, great kids and an attitude to never stop trying.
Our 18u and 16u teams went into the state tournament as underdogs—seeded 2nd for 18u and 3rd for 16u—and both walked away as Tier II State Champions after defeating DJHA 4 to 3 with late heroics.
18u started the tournament with two wins on Friday (4-1 over Brahmas and 5-0 over Wild) to know that night they had a spot in the championship game. On Saturday, in the final prelim game the team lost to DJHA 5 to 3.
On Sunday, Jacob Reynolds put the team up 1 nothing on a power play in the first. The Penguins tied it up in the second. The North Stars took a 3-1 lead off of goals 26 seconds apart by Jonah Fleisher and Christopher Wyse, but that left over 12 minutes to play. That was too long for an outstanding DJHA team, many of who were on the National winning 16u team last year. DJHA tied the game up with 4:31 left.
With 10 seconds left of a power play and with a faceoff in DJHA’s zone, the puck dropped back, Jonah Fleisher picked it up and passed to Chase Nies who had sneaked down by the net. Chase made a move on the goalie who went down and tripped Chase, but with his feet in the air as he fell, Chase puts the puck in around the goalie with 1:59 left and the team held on. Great game in net by Joseph Reynolds. We were outshot 36 to 16.
The 16u team watched the 18u team defeat DJHA and it gave them hope as well. They had to get to the game first. They defeated the Wild 4 to 1 to start the tournament, lost to DJHA 6-1 (although game was closer) and then, in a winner advances and loser is done game, dominated a shorthanded and tired Warriors team 6 to 2.
Our 16u team had only beat DJHA once, way back in September in the leveling tournament, although we took them to a shootout one other time. That was history though and this was just one game. McKinney scored three times on its first 5 shots, with Max Breon getting the first, Jacob Thompson the second, and Stefan Kruger the third. So with 5:01 left in the first, the team was up 3 nothing on an amazing DJHA team. DJHA switched goalies.
The team kept attacking in the first, but saw the Penguins score late. The team slowed down a little in the second and saw DJHA make it a one goal game. Leading 3-2 after an ice cut in the second intermission, the team came out strong in the third and kept attacking.
With 3:05 left, we took a penalty to stop a scoring chance. With 2:14 left, we took another penalty when a DJHA player slashed our goalie hard and our defenseman took strong objection—should have called them for the slash also but refs gave DJHA a 5 on 3 power play in the final 2:14 of the state championship game. The team killed off the 5 on 3 and were 32 seconds away from killing both penalties when DJHA scored to tie the game with 46 seconds left.
Some teams would have given up in that scenario, but not our team. For the next 40 seconds, we attacked and spent most of the time in DJHA’s zone. The one time the puck popped out, it went almost all the way down the ice below the faceoff circles in our zone. Stefan Kruger sent a huge pass cross ice up to Cullen Hogan at the redline. Cullen tipped it forward and Nate Albers beat a DJHA player to the puck, skated it in, and, with only one glove, shot it just below the faceoff dot and it went in, being redirected by the defenseman’s stick. That happened with 6.8 seconds left, so pandemonium ensued on the ice, but even more among our coaches and players on the bench. It was a beautiful sight to behold. As in the 18u game, we were outshot—35 to 15—but Cam Pendleton was up to the task.
This is the first time the McKinney North Stars has had a team in the championship game and our first State Championship in the three years we have competed as the McKinney North Stars. Both teams will play at the USA Hockey National Tournament April 5-9. 18u will travel to Green Bay, Wisconsin, while 16u will go to Wayne, New Jersey.
So, a great and historic weekend for McKinney hockey. Hopefully that is a sign of many great things to come.
Six McKinney North Stars teams completed in tournaments the first weekend in October with 2 teams winning the championship, 3 teams finishing in second place, and one team losing in the semi-final round.
14u A won its first tournament of the year, going 5-0-0 at the AHU Icebreaker Invitational Tournament. The team outscored its opponents 28 to 5 in five games and defeated the Jr. Coyotes 8 to 1 in the Championship Game.
16u A also won its first tournament of the year. The team went 5-0-0 at the AHU Icebreaker. The team outscored its opponents 27 to 4 in five games and defeated the Mission Ice 4 nothing in the championship.
18u AA and 14u AA both finished in second place at the AHU Icebreaker. Both teams finished the prelims as the number one seed. 18u AA lost to the Iowa Wild AAA 17u team 3 to 1 in the championship, with the final goal being an empty net goal. 14u AA won three preliminary round games and one semi-final game before getting in penalty trouble in the championship game and losing 6 to 3 to the Vegas Golden Knights.
12u A competed at the Big Bear Rolling Thunder Tournament. The team started the tournament out with a 3 to 2 win against an Affton Americans' team. The team then lost 4 to 6 to another Americans team and then 1 nothing to the Spirit. Making it to the semis, the team defeated in a shootout the Americans team it lost to in the prelims. In the championship game the team lost with 30 seconds left in overtime.
16u AA also had a strong showing against some tough teams at the AHU Icebreaker. The team defeated the AHU Silver Knights--who would go on to win the tournament--2 to 1 in the first game. The team then lost to the Jr. Sundevils 3 nothing and tied the Flagstaff North Stars. In the semis, the team lost to the Sundevils 3 to 6. Despite the loss the team played great, especially without four players making the trip and most of the team being in various stages of sickness and recovery.