A silver-medal effort by the St. Lawrence Thunder 16-Under boys highlighted a strong showing by the three area minor hockey teams who competed at USA Hockey Tier II National Championship tournaments last weekend.
Playing in Reston, Virginia, the Thunder stormed their way through their first five games before finally meeting their match in the championship game Sunday morning where they dropped a 3-2 decision to the Oakland Junior Grizzlies.
The other two locally-produced New York State champions in action were the St. Lawrence Thunder Bantams and the North Country Icestorm Girls 16-U team.
Both teams saw their hopes of advancing to the national title game end in hard-fought semifinal round losses Saturday night.
Both Thunder squads are sanctioned by Massena Minor Hockey while the Icestorm compete as part of the Potsdam Junior Hockey Association.
Coached by Josh Bartell, the Thunder were making their third appearance in four years at the USA Hockey Nationals and came away with their best finish.
In the title game against the California champions, the Thunder fell behind in the first period when Scott Mallas connected for the first of two power play goals fashioned by the Grizzlies at the 11:15 mark.
Potsdams Logan Ford tied the game 6:43 into the middle frame by finishing off a play set up by Hayden Hart and Massenas Patrick Manning and the teams went into the second intermission knotted at 1-1.
The Grizzlies struck for the next two goals of the game when Joseph Savel tallied the second power play marker just 3:36 into the final frame and Brandon VanOphem notched the eventual game-winner at the 8:31 mark.
The Thunder pulled back to within one when Hart converted off an assist from Lukas Arqueitt at 16:02 but but would be unable to come up with the equalizer.
Logan Brothers made 15 saves working the crease for the Thunder while Brandon Boncore stopped 22 shots for the Grizzlies.
Despite being held off the scoresheet in the title game, Madrid-Waddington student Kaden Pickering wound up as the second leading scorer of the tournament in the Thunders division with eight goals and five assists for 13 points. Hart, a Potsdam product, was sixth in the standings with nine points on three goals and six helpers. Logan Ford, also of Potsdam, and Arquiett, St. Lawrence Central standout, both finished with three goals and five assists while Potsdams Chad Varney chipped in a goal and four assists.
Brothers, a Massena Central student, split goaltending duties with Cantons Jonathan Stone over the course of the six games. Brothers went 3-1 in four games, posting a 2.00 goals against average and .920 save percentage while Stone backstopped a pair of wins in recording a 1.50 goals against average and .943 save percentage.
Other members of the national silver medal winning team included, Maddox Merry, JP Chauvin, Jordan Robert, Wyatt Wilmshurst, Ben Sprague, Patrick LaGrow and Bailey Hewlett of Massena, Potsdams Keenan OGorman, St. Lawrence Centrals Kody Kocsis, Cantons Andy McCormick, Madrid-Waddingtons Shane Cryderman and Malones Bailey Conklin. Both Pickering and Cryderman competed for the NAC and Section 10 Division II championship team from Norwood-Norfolk Central this past season. John Hart served as assistant coach as the Thunder closed out the season at 32-6-2.