The NESHL 2019 Championships ended with a bang on Sunday! The group stages only eliminated four teams so the remaining 12 were left to fight for three conference titles.
B Conference semis were up first, bright and early at 8:15 and 8:30. It’s truly a shame too because they were one of the day’s highlights. The Columbus Blue Jackets North v South rivalry matchup was everything you could have hoped for. South was the favorite after going 3-0 in the group stage but North came out strong. Jaydon Jenkins (#21) put the North up 1-0 halfway through the first period.
South was able to rebound with two goals in the last two minutes of the first. Trading goals from there, South went up 5-3 (all three of the North’s goals were by Jenkins and the South’s first three were by #2, Ben Musselman). With seconds remaining in the second, the North had a chance to make up some ground. They drove down the ice and put a couple shots on net pushing the goalie to the right. The puck came back around and they were able to put it in the left side of the net but it was just fractions of a second too late! The buzzer went off, sending the match into the third period. A goal could have swung the momentum back to the North but it swung it further South with Musselman scoring three more leading to an 8-3 win.
The other matchup was just as exciting all the way through as this one was early on. There was no score for much of the game until Jacob Lavigne (#12) scored for Vermont in the third. That lead only lasted a minute and a half until #18, Kyle Jacques put one away. It remained tied, through regulation due to several great saves from the Pioneers’ Larose and Warriors’ Gould. They kept stopping shots through four rounds until Vermont’s Troy Kingsbury (#39) was able to get one through and send his team to the finals.
The B Conference finals were similar to the semis with the Pioneers scoring a few goals and the Blue Jackets South scoring a lot, mostly by Musselman. He got the scoring started less than a minute into the game and would go on to score five more, leading to a 7-2 championship victory.
The A Conference semis were unfortunately, but not surprisingly a bit less contested. The Northeast Passage Wildcats cruised to the final with a 12-1 win over the Flyers. Eight NEP players scored in the match with US National Team player Noah Grove picking up a hat-trick. The Penguins couldn’t cruise quite as easily against the Gaylord Wolfpack but would still eventually win with an 11-4 final score.
A championship of Wildcats vs. Penguins was a rematch of one of the best matches of the weekend and it didn’t disappoint the second time around. It was again a high-speed defensive battle, with tons and tons of hits, although it was mostly played in the Wildcats attacking end. The Wildcats scored first just before the third period and used that momentum to score again a few minutes later. The Pens would bounce back with a Dan McCoy (#96) goal but it just wasn’t enough. The goalie was pulled as a last ditch effort but that let in a third Wildcats goal which sealed the deal.
Last was the B Tier II and it was pretty clear who was going through that bracket. The NEP Wildcats B team were crushing the competition as it came to them. They even crushed the Pittsburgh Mighty Penguins B team in the group stage who were crushing everyone else they faced. Both teams would keep crushing in the semis with the Wildcats shutting out the Ohio Warriors 7-0 and the Mighty Penguins matching with a 7-1 win over the Spaulding Shamrocks. The B Tier II final, the last match of the weekend, was yet another Penguins Wildcats matchup. The Penguins B squad couldn’t get anything going though, so the Wildcats would go on to win 4-0. Four players, Goodman (#7), Dimke (#2), Donovan (#21), and Faherty (#8) would contribute a goal each to the scoring, leading them to victory.
Day 3 Results
|Time||Match||Visitor (score)||Home (score)|
|B Semis||Columbus Blue Jackets North (3)||Columbus Blue Jackets South (8)|
|B Semis||Central VT Pioneers (2)||New England Warriors (6)|
|A Semis||Gaylord Wolfpack (4)||Pittsburgh Mighty Penguins A (11)|
|A Semis||Philadelphia Flyers (1)||Northeast Passage Wildcats A (12)|
Tier II Semis
|Spaulding Shamrocks (1)||Pittsburgh Mighty Penguins B (7)|
|B Tier II Semis||Ohio Warriors (0)||Northeast Passage Wildcats B (7)|
|B Final||Central Vermont Pioneers (2)||Columbus Blue Jackets South (7)|
|A Final||Pittsburgh Mighty Penguins A (1)||Northeast Passage Wildcats (3)|
|B Tier II Final||Pittsburgh Mighty Penguins B (0)||Northeast Passage Wildcats B (4)|
The Athletes Roll team was thrilled to help out with photography and coverage at this event. You can check out the full photo albums on Facebook and highlights on Twitter and Instagram with more to come soon. We were also selling the official NESHL/Athletes Roll event shirt at our table alongside our usual Athletes Roll merchandise. If you didn’t get a chance to pick one up you can order online! Head to athletesroll.com/shop or facebook.com/athletesroll/shop to order!
More in this series: