No team traveled more miles to get to this year’s Chipotle-USA Hockey Youth Tier II 16U National Championships in Plano, Texas, than the Anchorage North Stars. They didn’t go all that way to lose.
Anchorage’s Hayden Fox slapped the puck into a wide-open net with just 51 seconds remaining to ice the team’s 4-3 win Monday over the McKinney (Texas) North Stars. The play was set up by Eagle River’s Tucker Lien, who took a breakout pass in the neutral zone and skated along the left side deep into the offensive end before slipping a pass to Fox just as the defense closed in.
North Stars head coach Matt Thompson told USAHockey.com he’s been harping on Lien to keep things simple all season.
“We try to get him to skate wide every once in a while and keep it simple. He finally keeps it simple, drives it wide and we got a guy (Fox) busting the net who’s been working his butt off all tournament, busting his butt to the net,” Thompson said. “(Fox) just found a back-door pass and put it home.”
McKinney looked like it might cruise to victory after getting goals from Cullen Hogan, Andrew Kungle and Christian Bachman in the first 10 minutes of the game. But Anchorage got a spark when Logan Orr scored to cut the lead to 3-1 heading into the first intermission.
After a scoreless second period, Fox cut further into the lead with a power-play goal off a Colten Gerken-Roberto assist. Gerken-Roberto then equalized with Orr assisting to set up Fox and Lien’s dramatic flourish.
The North Stars reached the title game by defeating the Maine Moose 5-1 in Sunday’s semifinals. Orr and Gerken-Roberto scored two goals each in the win for the North Stars, who also got a goal from Jarett Beckett and assists from Cullen McCormick, Spencer Lund, Trevor Monahan and Joshua Tyra.