Alaska youth hockey players collect crowns

Anchorage Daily NewsApril 1, 2012 

Photo by Dave SchwalbeAlaskans Ryan Schwalbe, Hunter Fejes and Truman Reed, all of Anchorage, celebrate the Shattuck-St.Mary's (Minn.) U18 Tier 1 national championship April 1, 2012 in Williamsville, N.Y. This is the second national championship in a row for Schwalbe and Fejes.

DAVE SCHWALBE

Hockey heaven. Super Sunday. Rink reign.

By any label, Sunday proved a banner day for two Alaska youth teams and a Minnesota team that features three Alaskans -- all three clubs seized titles at USA Hockey national youth championships.

The Shattuck-St. Mary's (Minn.) 18-U boys, playing in Tier I, the highest level of American youth pucks, captured the crown in Williamsville, N.Y., and Alaskans were pivotal in pocketing that prize.

Defenseman Truman Reed of Anchorage scored a goal early in the first period -- forward Ryan Schwalbe of Anchorage furnished one of the assists -- and the Sabres (5-1-0 in the tournament) never trailed in beating the L.A. Junior Kings 2-1.

Also grabbing national titles were the Mustang Hockey Association's Alaska Blue Devils 12-U boys, a collection of players primarily from Eagle River who won the Tier II 2A title in Ashburn, Va., and the Alaska Icebreakers 14-U girls of Fairbanks, who bagged the Tier II championship in Frisco, Texas.

Reed, a junior who has committed to play at Providence College, delivered 2-2--4 totals in six tournament games. Schwalbe, committed to Minnesota State-Mankato, had two assists in the tournament. And forward Hunter Fejes of Anchorage, bound for Colorado College in the fall, tied for the tournament lead in goals and points with 4-4--8 totals in six games.

The national title was the second straight for Fejes and Schwalbe, who last season helped the Sabres win the 18-U championship in Connecticut. That 2011 title team also included forward Tanner Sorenson of Anchorage, who recently completed his freshman season at Michigan State, and defenseman Bryan Sinz, who plays for the Tri-City Storm of the U.S. Hockey League.

The Alaska Blue Devils Tier II 12-U boys beat the Affton (Mo.) Americans 3-0 on the strength of Trent Burnham's 35 saves, which delivered his second shutout of the tournament.

The victory also avenged the Blue Devils' (5-1-0) only loss of the tournament, a 6-3 setback to Affton in pool play.

Braden Brunnhoelzl got the Blue Devils off to a strong start Sunday with his short-handed goal in the first period. Ty McEnaney added a second-period goal off helpers from Andrew Beckett and Zachary Krajnik, and Nathan Sperry scored his goal off assists from Gunnar Stadem and Brunnhoelzl. Krajnik led all tournament scorers with 6-10--16 totals in six games, Sperry racked five goals, and Stadem, Joshua Linn and Josh Hammer all scored four goals in the tournament.

Backing all that production was Burnham, who was in net for all six games and delivered a 1.33 goals-against average and .944 save percentage.

Grand goaltending helped the Alaska Icebreakers Tier II 14-U girls (5-1-0) earn their title, as well -- Sabrina Nichols stopped 17 shots Sunday in a 2-1 win over the Buffalo Regals.

Mackenzie Sylvester scored a power-play goal off an assist from Dynnea Bezona in the first period to give the Icebreakers a 1-0 lead and Megan Kubichek's even-strength goal off a helper from Jade Meier late in the third period broke a 1-1 tie and proved the game-winning strike.

Jessica Carlson led the Icebreakers in the tournament with 5-1--6 totals in six games, and Helenka Brice added 3-1--4 totals in six games.

Find Doyle Woody's blog at adn.com/hockeyblog or call him at 257-4335.

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