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Bethel Park Wins National Title Playing “Pittsburgh Hockey”

03/31/2014, 3:15pm MDT
By Nick Beaulieu - Special to

OMAHA, Neb. – The Bethel Park Blackhawks of Pittsburgh defeated the Providence Catholic Celtics of Chicago 2-1 on Sunday morning at Ralston Arena to claim the title at the 2014 Toyota-USA Hockey High School National Championships.

The game began a neck-and-neck contest. The Celtics were able to keep the puck in their offensive zone for much of the period, but the active Bethel Park defenseman made it tough for shots to reach the net.

At the 4:20 mark in the period, Providence was whistled for interference, but the Celtics were the ones who made the most of the call, nearly converting a breakaway opportunity on the penalty. At the end of the first, however, both sides remained scoreless and even with eight shots on goal apiece.

In the second, Providence stole the momentum as the Celtics controlled the puck down low, leading to Richard Yusa’s backdoor goal to make it 1-0.

“When we were down one goal, and when they scored first, I thought it was going to be tough,” said Bethel Park coach James McVay.

Later in the period, another penalty was called on Providence, this time for stick holding. This time the Blackhawks were able to capitalize: They controlled puck and took it coast to coast to punch in the equalizing goal.

“That was the best 2-on-1 we’ve had all season,” McVay said.

Minutes later, Bethel Park had another near goal, officially shifting the momentum to the Blackhawks. The momentum shift showed up on the scoreboard with 1:35 left in the period.

Bethel Park’s Chris Siak hustled to reach a puck that was drifting back near the Celtics goal. Siak won it away from the Celtic defenseman and slung it to Jacob Salak, who was sitting in front of the net. Salak punched in the shot for a goal.

Bethel Park held on to the 2-1 advantage at the intermission, leading shots on goal 18-16.

The Celtics came out in the third period with a heightened sense of urgency and intensity. Providence had many good looks, but the Blackhawks defensemen and goalie found a way to keep the chances out of the net.

“Our goal is to block every shot,” McVay said. “It says we outshot them, but that’s only because they didn’t get to the net. But we played well.”

Providence pulled its goalie with a little more than a minute to play, but the team’s effort came up short as the Blackhawks of Bethel Park became the new kings of high school hockey.

“It was a great experience being here,” Bethel Park senior captain Derek Lesnak said. “It was our last hockey together as a team, and we made the most of it and won a national championship.”

Bethel Park was not a favorite to win, as the Blackhawks were knocked off in their regional playoffs. But the squad put together a great weekend run that led to a national title.

“It was great coming here and showing what Pittsburg hockey plays like,” Lesnak said. “We shocked some teams coming through, playing good defense and playing as a team. That’s how our hockey is.”

The championship marks the end of the career for Lesnak, who has played more games for Bethel Park than anyone else. He believes he couldn’t have drawn out a better game to end his career and symbolize Bethel Park hockey on a national stage.

“It’s a lot of hard work, but you come in a boy and come out a man,” Lesnak said. “Couldn’t ask for anything better playing for Bethel Park hockey.”

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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Belle Tire takes home championship

04/04/2007, 5:00pm MDT
By John Raffel

FRASER, Mich. -- Two second-period goals were all the scoring Belle Tire of Detroit, Mich., would need to defeat Shattuck-St. Mary's of Minnesota, 2-1, Sunday in USA Hockey's Tier I 16 & Under National Championship game.

Jordan Miller and Tyler Brown scored goals for Belle Tire, the host team, in the one-goal victory at Great Lakes Sports City. Goalie Joe Rogers made 22 saves in the winning effort.

"It's incredible. I can't really explain it," Rogers said after the win. "We maintained our defensive zone today. Our defense did a good job of clearing out our zone. That helped me see the shots."

Shattuck-St. Mary's goaltender Kevin Murdock made 17 saves, and his teammates finished with a 23-19 shots advantage.

"At this time, it's hard to be satisfied, but I'm proud of our kids," said Shattuck-St. Mary's head coach Rod Collins said afterward.  "We made it to the finals and my kids gave everything. I couldn't have asked for more."

Belle Tire ended the weekend at 6-0 and completed their season with a 61-7-6 record in 2006-07.

Trailing, 1-0, after the first period, Belle Tire struck for two goals within 1:35 to take a 2-1 advantage in the second period. Jordan Miller scored the first goal when Murdock wasn't able to cover a loose puck, and Zach Golembiewski and Beau Schmitz picked up assists on the goal.

The next goal, with 3:09 to play, came on a shot by Tyler Brown, who was assisted by Mac Olson.

Shattuck-St. Mary's scored the only goal in the first period when Jack Nicoll scored with six minutes left, assisted by Brad Roggins and Salvatore Alfieri.

"We made an adjustment," said Belle Tire coach Kyle Krug. "They were coming out of the middle of the ice too easily at us. We went to a 1-2-2 forecheck and that helped us. After that first goal, we got some good momentum. I told the guys if we score, then we could get another one. That's what happened."

"I knew what I had to do to hold [Shattuck-St. Mary's]," Rogers said. "That's a good team. I knew it would be a tough game."

Collins, too, was ready to compliment the opponent.

"Belle Tire is a very good hockey team," Collins said. "We couldn't penetrate their defense. Belle Tire had a home-ice advantage, but it was the same sized surface for both teams," Collins said. "They were very strong defensively. In the third period, we had chances. But we couldn't convert. That happens."

Krug praised his goalie.

"We rode him here to Nationals," said Krug, who had been with a Honeybaked team that won a USA Hockey National Championship in 2003. "His focus and determination are second to none."

Rogers, for his part, was happy he didn't have to travel too far for Nationals.

On having the title game on Belle Tire's home rink, said Rogers, "It was great to have it here. We've done well here all year, and we get great support from our friends and family from the area."

"Being in our own locker room and having a skate sharpener here, it's just nice to be at home," Krug said.

"We thought this team had a good chance as we came into the season," continued Krug. "Especially when we added four [1990-born players] to the team," he said. "Coming out of our league, the Midwest Elite Hockey League, which I think is the best in the country, we did well enough to give me confidence that this team could do well."

Story courtesy Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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