RESTON, Va. - The local Mid-State Mustangs U16 2A ice hockey team won a national championship Sunday.
The Mustangs beat the Florida Junior Panthers, 7-4, at Skate Quest Arena to claim the U16 Tier II Boys USA Hockey national championship. The team went 6-0 in the tournament, which consisted of 12 teams from all over the United States.
"It's a little bit surreal, coming from such a small area to go compete nationally and win a national championship in ice hockey,'' said head coach Mike Bowman, a Hollidaysburg native. "This may sound odd because we have kids from different school districts, but this team was as close to a family as I've ever coached. They really pulled together and brought national attention to Central Pennsylvania.''
The Mid-State Mustang U16 2A Tier II team won a national championship Sunday. Team members include (from left): First row—Andrew Ebert, Tim Shoff, Trey Cochran, Tyler Shima, Stefan Horgas, Matt Gregory. Second row—Jared Karas, Matt Slezak, Bobby Leahey, Sam Lafferty, Macky Power. Third row—Head coach Mike Bowman, Jake Hale, Adam Badorrek, Bobby Polachek, Craig Skudalksi, Hunter Obeid, Jack Wagner, Danny Moscone, Dalton Bown, Brent Heaton, assistant coaches Glenn Barbosa and Garrett Barbosa.
The Mustangs are the first local team to win a national title after having three others compete at nationals in the previous two years. None of the other teams made it past the quarterfinals.
"We started back in mid-June ,'' Bowman said. "We worked from then to this point with the goal of winning a national title. We knew we had the talent, and the kids put in a lot of hard work. We had played together in 25 or 26 different tournaments and knew the team had the makeup [to win it all]. We knew that we had to shore up a few areas for nationals, and our offense and goal-tending really stepped up.''
Hollidaysburg's Sam Lafferty scored two goals and had two assists in the championship game and was named the Powerade Player of the Game. Hollidaysburg's Macky Power added two goals, and Altoona's Adam Badorrek had an assist.
"Sam Lafferty and Danny Moscone [of State College] gave us great leadership this year,'' Bowman said. "No doubt, that was one of the main reasons in us winning the championship.''
Other local team members included Hollidaysburg's Brent Heaton and Matt Gregory. The 20-member team also included six players from State College and four from the Johnstown area.
The Mustangs battled back from 1-0 and 2-1 deficits to grab a 3-2 lead after one period on Sunday and then extended the advantage to 4-2 after two. Florida cut the deficit to 4-3 early in the final period and later trailed 5-4 before the Mustangs put it away with the final two goals.
"[Florida] held on to the puck at the very end because they knew they didn't have enough time to make up the difference,'' Bowman said. "We counted down the final seconds, and the celebration started. It was pretty crazy.''
SCORE BY PERIODS
Florida Junior Panthers2 0 2-4
Mid-State Mustangs 3 1 3-7
FIRST PERIOD: FP-Kaub (unassisted), 11:18; MSM-Power (unassisted); FP-Veliky (Kaub), 7:17; MSM-Moscone (Lafferty), 6:37; MSM-Moscone (Lafferty), :43.
SECOND PERIOD: MS-Lafferty (Moscone, Badorrek), 7:29.
THIRD PERIOD: FP-Fornaris (Palacio), 16:53; MSM-Power (Horgas), 7:58; FP-Johnson (Veliky), 5:36; MSM-Lafferty (unassisted), 4:58; MSM-Horgas (Polarchek), 3:01.
Goalies: Greenfield, FP, 38 shots saved-31 shots faced; Shoff, MSM, 31 shots saved-27 shots faced.