Jr. Everblades 14U AA Assistant Coach Munkelwitz recaps the team's journey during the National tournament below:
The journey for the U14 AA Everblades to the National tournament was filled with the ups and downs that most teams have during the course of a season. Head Coach Mike Delaney stated at the first parent meeting in August that that was our goal, and (to the amusement of players and parents alike) it was achievable.
So fast forward to the SAHOF final against the nationally 20th ranked Gulf Coast Flames, with our goal certainly in reach (it was our 6th game against them this year, with the record being 2-2-1) , our dream seemed to be snatched from our grip in what would end up being a shootout loss after playing to a thrilling 1-1 thru regulation and overtime. We thought our season over.
That was not to be so.
Thanks to the work of Hockey Director Tony Lessel and others, our case was put before USA Hockey, and we were granted an invitation to the National tournament being held in Amherst, NY. With about 10 days to prepare, the JEB organization, team managers Kristian Tracy and Fred Brunoli went to work securing (and donating) ice time for practices, flight and hotels for the entire team. With this weight off, it gave Coach Delaney the time to focus on getting the team ready for what would be the biggest tournament they had ever been in; and one very rarely attended by a Jr. Everblades team.
After some travel hitches due to weather (snow in April?? Welcome to Upstate NY!), we were ready for action. Our first game saw us faced against the Vermont State U14 champions Essex Sting. The Jr. Blades came out strong, with a convincing 9-0 win. The following game against team North Dakota didn’t fare as well, with the Falling 4-2, despite outshooting their opponent 45-17.
The third and final round robin game would be against the Alaska All Stars, with a playoff berth on the line. With a firm game plan from Coach Delaney, and the knowledge that a large contingent of Germain personnel were watching, the boys took to the ice with purpose, winning 6-2 and being one of the last 8 teams in the country still playing.
The opponent in the quarterfinal was the Maine Moose. Still in playoff mode from the game before, the Jr. Blades game out with a vengeance, playing outstanding team hockey to hold the bigger, faster, high powered Moose to only 1 disputed goal through regulation. Another 1-1 overtime loomed, only this one would not end in a shootout- we were to play until someone scored. Alas, it was not to be, with the Moose scoring on another disputed goal in the overtime. They would eventually become national champions, winning their semifinal game 5-1 and their championship game 4-0 over the Flames.
The whole Jr. Everblades family should be proud of this team: Head Coach Mike Delaney; Forwards Cole Brunoli, James McGovern, Ryan Chambre, Alex Svoboda, Noah Trathen, Jared Salminen, Doug Glennon and Charlie Bublitz; defensemen Ciera Porter, Nick Slugh, Jeremy Pizzola, Alex Pouliaevski and Andrew Mill and Goaltender Evan Spinella. They handled themselves with professionalism and class throughout the season and at Nationals, bringing honor to their parents, the JEB organization and the entire state of Florida. Please be sure to congratulate each and every one of them for an outstanding season!