By Anita Lichterman, Assistant Team Manager
Team Central earned the title of Runner-Up in the Girls’ Division of the 2015 America’s Showcase at the Robert Morris University Island Sports Center in Pittsburgh, PA on Sunday, April 12. The objective of America’s Showcase is to provide a highly competitive National event for those premier High School student athletes who play for USA Hockey registered High School teams and to provide the opportunity for these premier players (who may not be traditionally scouted) to be seen by major hockey programs in the United States. Prep School and College scouts will be in attendance during games. This will mark the third consecutive year Team Central has participated in the America’s Showcase; they brought home the Championship title in both 2013 and 2014. Six girls’ teams in all vied for the Championship Title: Atlantic, New York, Northern Plains, Rocky Mountain, Mid-Am and our own, Team Central.
Game 1: Team Central vs. Mid-Am
Scoring was very tight throughout the entire game. Mid-Am earned the first goal at 11:19 of the first period. Team Central would bounce back at the 16:00 minute mark of the second with an unassisted goal by Delayne Ivanowski. Mid-Am would then come back with 2 more goals in the second period to end with a 3-1 lead heading into the final period. Team Central, who had not had a single practice prior to heading to Pittsburgh, showed their individual and team talents in the third. Tying the game with a goal by Natalie Ryan, assisted by Dakota Golde, at 15:36 only to have Mid-Am come back with a goal of their own at 14:40. With time running down Team Central had to tighten up their defense and be more aggressive on offense. They did just that by scoring with 3:44 left in the third to tie the game….goal was scored by Dakota Golde with assists going to Emma Paravola and Amanda Pugliese. Less than a minute later Natalie Ryan scored again unassisted and Team Central was able to keep their undefeated streak going with a tie. Team Central out shot Mid-Am 27-17; a solid performance for our goalie, Megan Hearn, whose flight was delayed finally arriving in Pittsburgh around 5pm. Megan was Team Central’s only goalie for the entire tournament as Emily Bubla from Wisconsin was injured back home and was unable to make the trip.
Game 2: Rocky Mountain vs. Team Central
After having a morning practice, the girls came out rejuvenated and ready to explode on the ice. Goals were scored at 14:08 of the first period by Jadie Mercille assisted by Amanda Pugliese; at 14:03 of the second by Jillian Rowland; at 4:03 of the second by Kirstin LaBelle, assisted by Delayne Ivanowski. By the end of the second period, Team Central had outshot Rocky Mountain 25-1 and our goalie was on her way to a shut-out. Rocky Mountain did manage to get 1 goal past Meagan Hearn at 10:23 of the third period and Team Central held on to win 3-1 with a total of 40 shots on goal to Rocky Mountain’s 3. The late night game paid off with lots of excitement.
Game 3: Atlantic vs Team Central
This game was extremely physical and took its toll on Team Central. Team Central dug deep scoring the goals needed to win the game and put them once again in the Championship game on Sunday thus keeping the undefeated streak going. Outshooting Atlantic 23-5 after 2 periods, Team Central knew they would have to come together and really play as a team. With the score tied 0-0 going into the third, Atlantic scored the game’s first goal at the 10:36 mark. Team Central continued shooting but just could not get the puck between the pipes. Late in the third period Team Central’s coach called a time-out and pulled our goalie as the face-off was deep in Atlantic’s zone. It paid off with a goal from Jillian Rowland assisted by Natalie Ryan and Dakota Golde. Knowing that a tie would not be good enough to land us in the Championship game, Team Central pulled Megan Hearn again with less than a minute left in the game. With only 7 seconds left remaining, Kirstin LaBelle, assisted by Delayne Ivanowski put home the game winner. Team Central outshot Rocky Mountain 43-9 and put on the ultimate display of teamwork and sportsmanship and 200% effort in the face of adversity and rose to the occasion. Several girls had bruising and soreness but excitement and happiness rang throughout the locker room, especially after ice bags were handed out. The excitement and reminiscing of the game carried on back at the hotel as we re-played both goals over and over again in the lobby all while a wedding reception was wrapping up.
Game 4: the Championship Game
At 9:00 am on a brisk, sunny Sunday morning this game pitted what most would call a rivalry game: Team Central vs. Mid-Am. Team Central played strong but just could not bring it together as they had done the previous 3 games. Shots were even at 18 apiece, but Team Central lost 10-2 with our goals coming from Delayne Ivanowski assisted by Haley Hill and Jadie Mercille assisted by Alex Richards. Thus comes the end of the winning streak. For 3 years Team Central had an amazing run with a record of 10-1-1.
Regardless of the final score of the Championship game, Team Central held their heads high walking out of the locker room for the final time this past weekend. These unique 16 young ladies will forever remember this weekend; the friends they made, the fun they had, the learning from each other they experienced. Mary Ann Robinson, myself, Mike Cowan and Craig Butenbach consider this team, players and parents to be one of the most unique and wonderful group we have had the pleasure to be part of. These ladies have earned the respect and admiration of the administration of this team as well as many teams that participated in the weekend’s events. These girls all know they will forever be in my heart, and it was an honor to not only meet each and every one of them but also to watch these hockey players give it all they had and put everything on the line…FOR THE LOVE OF THE GAME!
Thank you to all these young ladies and their families for a fantastic and exciting weekend!
Click HERE for 2015 Team Roster