MARLBOROUGH, MA- The Bruins had a familiar opponent waiting for them in the National Championship game on Tuesday, March 29 on Rink 1 at NESC. The New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs breezed past the Palm Beach Hawks in their semifinal game and set up an all Empire league title game. In the end, it was a Mike Weaver goal that sent the Bruins toppling onto the ice in celebration of the program’s first national title.
This would be the fourth meeting of the season between the two rivals, with the Bruins winning all of the prior three games. This would also be the 26th time the two teams have met since the Bruins joined the league six seasons ago. In those 26 games the Bruins hold a 23-2-1 record.
While the B’s hold that overwhelming advantage over the years, every game seems to be as close as you can get with most being decided by one goal and several needing overtime…this was the first that needed double OT.
“Both of our teams are evenly matched and had great seasons so we knew we would have to play a near-perfect game to give ourselves a chance to win. This would be our third game in a 24-hour span and the major difference between our two teams is that we are nearly a full two years younger than them and I was concerned our guys would wear down towards the end of the game giving away so much size, strength and age,” coach Chris Masters commented. “They are primarily a team comprised of ’91, ’92 and ’93 birth years and we are comprised almost entirely of ’93, ’94 and ‘95’s and when you are playing a team as talented as they are, giving away that much size and strength it certainly gives you cause for concern. Maybe the only difference in the game would be that if the Monarchs had they won they would’ve celebrated with some beers in the locker room while our kids would be celebrating with milk and cookies.”
The Monarchs got on the board first when they scored with just under 6 minutes to go in the first period. The Bruins tied the game just two minutes later when Jack Eichel, who was not only the youngest player in the entire tournament but also led it in goals, scored his ninth goal of the tournament on the power play. The play was a beautiful set up that started with Kevin McKernan at the top of the umbrella moving it to his right to Mitch Beyer who was on the flank. Beyer looked off the shot and made a cross ice pass to Eichel who was on the opposite flank and one timed the pass home to tie the game. The teams headed to the locker room tied it one with the Bruins holding a 12 to 5 shot advantage.
The Bruins took their first lead of the game and the middle frame when Mac Cook scored the Bruins second power-play goal halfway through the period. On the play Eichel fed McKernan, who walked across the blue line to the center of the ice and sent a quick, low hard shot towards the net that Cook got a stick on. Less than a minute later the Monarchs struck back when they capitalized on some sloppy neutral zone play by the black and gold.
The teams would head to the locker room tied at two and with the B’s now holding a 23-10 shot advantage. The B’s team defense was remarkable all game, and for what seems like the last four months, keeping a potent offense at bay for nearly 90 minutes of hockey
holding them to only 30 shots through the five periods.
“When I went back and watched the game on video what I noticed more than anything else was how good a job our defenseman did it keeping good gaps and keeping their forwards to the outside of the rink. What I also noticed,” Masters noted, “was how good our forwards were at back checking to the middle of the ice and providing not only back pressure on the back check but also picking up all the turnovers in the slot and not allowing them second and third chances in zone.”
In the third it was more of the same as the Bruins outshot the purple and gray by a 13 to 6 margin and it was becoming obvious that the Monarchs goalie, Drew Case, was looking to steal a game and a national championship for his team.
“While case made 59 saves and Leahy (Bruins goalie Brendan Leahy) only had 29,” coach Dan Tatar commented, “Leahy had six or seven, literally, game saving saves at different stretches of the third and in both overtimes, he was so key for us. ”
Into the second overtime the Bruins continued bombarding the Monarchs but just couldn’t find the game-winner till their 63rd shot was put on net. On the game-winning goal the Monarchs Stevie Miller turned the puck over in the neutral zone and Weaver collected the puck, took it wide to his right and let a hard shot get to the net that Case controlled to the corner. A NH defensemen tried to make a breakout pass that Manzella intercepted at the blue line, dodged a defender and found himself in the slot, all alone and he ripped a bomb that Case could not control and the rebound was left to his left just feet from the net. Weaver, who went to the net as Manzella let his shot go was in the right place at the right time and, somehow, got enough on the shot as the puck was bouncing end over end to end the game and send the B’s players piling onto the ice in celebration.
“We talked before the game about how we have had some great teams over the last ten years who have accomplished some great things but we have never had this opportunity and these kids would have a chance to distinguish themselves as the first team in our organizations history to be national champs,” Masters commented following the game. “Dan (assistant coach Dan Tatar) and I are so proud of these players and this team. To think back to late August and the start of training camp and the early part of the season and all the struggles we had and for them to stay with it, right the ship, persevere and go on an epic run from November through the last game (having only lost one game in that stretch) really says a lot about the talent level, commitment, mental toughness and competitive intensity these kids showed.”
“There is a clip on YouTube of Bill Belichick giving his pre-game speech before one of the Super Bowl wins the Patriots had won and he spoke about what the trophy symbolizes and that it doesn’t symbolize the guy with the most sacks, most touchdowns or the guy who led the league in punting but that it symbolizes the team that’s the toughest, smartest and most confident and when you look back at why you win it’s because you executed the best, were the toughest, smartest and most confident and this group clearly did that this weekend going through three teams in the quarters, semi’s and finals (Hitmen, Royals and Monarchs) that were among the best in the country. Dan, Peter (Masters) and the entire organization could not be more proud of their effort and execution.”
2011 USA Hockey Junior National Champions
Eichel Goal Sends B’s to National Title Game
MARLBOROUGH, MA-It took OT to decide a winner in the Bruins/LI Royals national semi final on Monday night…but it didn’t take long once in the extra frame.
On the opening shift Jack Eichel rushed the puck up the right wing, faked taking the puck to the net forcing the goalie to go down and then cut back around the net for the wrap around winner. The Bruins piled onto the ice in celebration and they now play Tuesday at 12:00 PM for the USA Hockey National Championship.
The Bruins took a 1-0 lead on a Collin Britnell early in the second period. After the Royals tied it, it was Nick Centauro (pictured above) who ripped a bomb from the blue that made the score 2-1. In the third the Royals struck back again to tie the game and send it into OT.
Brendan Leahy made 34 saves en route to the win.
B’s Advance to National Semi Final Game
MARLBOROUGH, MA-The B’s got a power play goal from Mitch Beyer in the third period to lift the team past the Jersey Hitmen, 3-2, on Monday morning to advance to the semi finals Monday night.
Niko Rufo scored twice for the B’s and Matt Penta was sharp in goal making 26 saves. This was the sixth meeting between the two teams this season, with the Bruins now holding four games to two edge. After opening the season with a win on the road in New Jersey the Bruins then dropped the next two, also on the road to the Hitmen. The B’s final three victories all came in the postseason with the Bruins beating their former sister club to the south twice during the Empire final four weekend and again at nationals.
This marks the second game in a row the Bruins have ended team season and the team will look to do it again tonight in the national semifinal game when they take on the Long Island Royals.
SLOW START FOLLOWED BY BLITZKRIEG
B’s Score 10 Straight in 10-2 Win
MARLBOROUGH, MA-The final game of the round-robin portion of the national championship took place late Sunday morning for the Junior Bruins. While the game turne d out to be a blowout, it certainly didn’t start that way with the Atlanta Knights getting out to a 2-0 lead and heading into the first intermission with a 2-1 edge.
Paul Russell, the team’s MVP, showed why he was just that with under a minute to go in the first…the B’s, who looked like they forgot the game started at 10:50 AM, looked ripe for an upset. Staring down the barrel of a 2-0 deficit and shorthanded for the final minute of the first Russell stole the puck off a face-off in the neutral zone, used his lightning acceleration to quickly get past the Knights defenseman and then cut to the net hard on a semi-breakaway slipping the puck five hole and giving the B’s the boost they needed to wake themselves up.
Jack Eichel, Colin Britnell and Matt Manzella each picked up goals in the second to give the Bruins a 4-2 lead heading into the final frame. A win puts the Bruins in the quarterfinals and extend their season for at least one more game.
As they have done most of the year, they just got better as each game progressed and put the game completely out of reach scoring six times in the third to end the Knights season. Scoring in the third were Mac Cook, Eichel, Russell, two from Niko Rufo and Mike Weaver.
The win put the B’s at the top of their division with a 2-0-1 record and will be the fifth seed in the quarterfinal round of the tournament.
BRUINS HUNT DOWN MOOSE
Eichel Leads Way With 4 Goal Effort in 11-2 Win
MARLBOROUGH, MA-On Saturday morning Junior Bruins, fresh off a last-minute come-from-behind tie a day prior, got the offense cranking in and11-2 route of the Metro Fighting Moose. The team was led by Jack Eichel who picked up four goals and added two assists for a nice six point game. Another key for the B’s was the power play, which went 5-8 in the game.
The Bruins scored the first 8 and had built a 7-0 lead after two periods. The Moose then got on the board in the third with a power-play goal of their own before the Bruins struck again for two more. The teams then exchange goals late in the third to finish up the scoring. Matt Penta was sharp in net making 21 saves on the 23 shots he faced. Others with big efforts were Matt Manzella (5 assists), Conor Brassard (2 goals/2 assists) and Mac Cook (2 goals).
The Bruins now turn their attention to the Atlanta Knights in their final round-robin game.
LAST SECOND HEROICS SAVE B’s
Britnell Goal Salvages Tie
MARLBOROUGH, MA-In the opening game at the USA Hockey National tournament for the Junior Bruins (Empire) team, despite some very sloppy play in the defensive zone, was not an easy one. They did just enough to escape with a tie against the Florida Jr. Blades.
The B’s, who got out to a 2-0 lead on goals by Matt Manzella and Jack Eichel, then saw the Glades score four straight and they looked as if they were on their way to an early tournament upset.
Collin Britnell scored his first of the game with less than eight minutes to go and then got the game tying tally in dramatic fashion with only :24 left and the B’s goalie pulled.
The Bruins, who out shot the Glades by a 45-20 margin, could not find the game winner in OT and settled for a 4-4 tie. They take on the Metro Fighting Moose on Saturday.