USA Hockey Girls Tier 1 Nationals Preview
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A day after the puck dropped on the USA Hockey Tier 1 Youth (Boys) Nationals, play gets underway for the girls in all three age groups bright and early Thursday just outside of Philadelphia at Ice Line Quad Rinks in West Chester, PA.
Sixteen teams have either earned berths or received at-large bids in the 14U, 16U and 19U age groups. Teams are separated into four pools at each level and will play each of the three other teams in their pools once to determine seedings for the quarterfinals. The top two finishers in each pool will advance to the playoff round.
A quick glance at our MYHockeyRankings.com national rankings shows that nine of the top-10 and 10 of the top-11 teams are competing in the 14U tournament. At the 16U level, eight of the top-10 teams are playing, while eight of the top-14 are represented in the 19U tourney.
Pool play begins Thursday, April 29, with teams playing one game a day to determine the quarterfinalists. Quarterfinals and semifinals are scheduled for Sunday, May 2, with the championship games set for Monday, May 3.
Games in the 16U division begin at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Thursday, while 19U play gets underway at 1 p.m. and the 14U group gets started at 5:30 p.m.
Here is a quick breakdown of each age group:
Tier 1 Girls 16U National Championship
#1 Minnesota Elite Vegas – 18-2-0
#10 Selects Academy at Bishop Kearney – 32-13-3
#13 Gilmour Gladiators – 29-12-1
#38 Team Colorado – 10-22-2
Minnesota Elite Vegas went 18-2-0 between Sept. 10 and Oct. 17 to earn its spot at Nationals. They faced off with No. 4 Shattuck-St. Mary’s three times during that span, going 2-1-0 in those games and earning a pair of one-goal decisions while also suffering a 6-0 setback. The team’s other loss came against the nation’s 16th-ranked team. Overall, Minnesota is 6-1-0 vs. teams that qualified for Nationals. No. 10 Selects is on an 11-1-1 streak entering Nationals, with the lone loss in that span coming against No 19 Belle Tire. March 6. The New York state champs are 13-9-2 against Nationals’ qualifiers. Gilmour dropped its only two meetings of the year against Selects Academy in a pair of hard-fought, one-goal decisions. The Gladiators have won 10 of their past 12 and 14 of their past 17 contests entering Nationals, including wins against qualifiers Team Colorado, Pens Elite and the Chicago Young Americans. They are 7-8-1 against teams in the field. Colorado fell to Gilmour, 2-0, April 3 and the No. 21 Chicago Young Americans by identical 2-1 scores April 3 and 4. That leaves their overall record against Nationals’ qualifiers at 1-9-0.
#3 Little Caesars – 56-1-2
#9 Pittsburgh Penguins Elite – 16-19-3
#14 Florida Alliance – 47-10-1
#30 Anaheim Lady Ducks – 17-13-0
Little Caesars played one of the nation’s most ambitious schedules, traveling back and forth across the United States multiple times in search of top competition, and compiled an amazing 56-1-2 record. LC’s lone loss of the year came against No. 9 Pens Elite in overtime March 7. There also were ties against the No. 21 Chicago Young Americans and No. 2 Minnesota Elite Grey. They are 27-1-1 against teams in the Nationals’ field. Pens Elite handed LC its lone loss of the season in a 3-2 OT thriller, setting up a huge rematch at Nationals on May 1 at 12:30 p.m. Eastern time. They are 8-18-3 vs. the tournament field. Florida Alliance lost just seven of 45 games this season, with four of those setbacks coming against Little Caesars. They are 4-1-1 against other teams in the field. The Lady Ducks took two of three games vs. the No. 34 Valley Thunder to capture the Pacific District title. Anaheim is on a 10-game winning streak as Nationals get underway, and the Ducks are 2-9-0 against Nationals’ qualifiers.
#4 Shattuck-St. Mary’s – 27-8-0
#8 Chicago Mission – 14-9-0
#18 NJ Titans – 6-7-3
#29 Team Wisconsin – 11-24-2
This pool collectively might have been the most impacted by COVID-19 and the various stops and starts in the season that came along with it. None of the teams completed anywhere near their normal slate of games, with the No. 18 Titans only playing 16 times. Shattuck suffered two of its eight losses, both by a single goal, against No. 1 Minnesota Elite Vegas. The Sabres enter Nationals having won nine of their last 10 games dating to a 5-2 loss to the No. 8 Chicago Mission Feb. 6. SSM is 5-3 against teams in the field. The Mission, who went 1-2-0 vs. Shattuck on the season, were 7-4-0 against other qualifying teams. New Jersey opened the season with five games against teams that would qualify for Nationals between Aug. 28 and Sept. 6 before seeing their season halted until Nov. 22. They went 1-4-0 in those games, knocking off the No. 5 East Coast Wizards, and then dropped their only other game against a Nationals’ qualifier, 3-0, against the sixth-ranked Mid-Fairfield Stars when play resumed. Team Wisconsin played the most games of the group and is 4-6-0 against tournament teams.
#5 East Coast Wizards – 18-2-2
#6 Mid-Fairfield Stars – 12-1-0
#20 Philadelphia Jr. Flyers – 25-21-5
#21 Chicago Young Americans – 20-16-11
The East Coast Wizards are the lone Massachusetts representative in the 16U Nationals’ field after going a combined 10-0-1 during the New England Girls Hockey league fall and winter seasons. Overall, they won 18 of the 22 contests they managed to play and are 3-2-0 vs. teams in the field. Mid-Fairfield also experienced a COVID-shortened season, playing 12 games by Sept. 6 and then just once more on March 20. The Stars’ lone loss was a 5-0 setback against No. 3 Little Caesars, and they were 5-1-0 against Nationals’ qualifiers. The Jr. Flyers completed something resembling a normal season, winning 25 of 51 games with five ties. Despite playing more than 50 games, Philadelphia did play several of their opponents many more times than usual to get in as many games as possible against strong competition. They are 7-12-1 against teams that qualified for Nationals. CYA also managed to squeeze in close to a full slate of games and took on many of the nation’s top teams. They are 5-10-3 vs. tournament teams, but skated to a 0-0 tie against No. 3 Little Caesars and suffered three 1-0 losses to teams in the field.
Tier 1 Girls 14U National Championship
#2 Minnesota Green Giants – 20-4-3
#8 Pittsburgh Penguins Elite – 25-11-3
#10 Chicago Young Americans – 19-8-1
#52 Washington Pride – 2-8-1
The No. 2 Green Giants played all of their games between Aug. 22 and Oct. 18 in earning their trip to Nationals. They won the last six games on their schedule and were unbeaten in 20 of their last 21 (19-1-1). They allowed just 34 goals in their 27 games (1.26 GPG) and scored 110. The Green Giants’ only losses were against the No. 11 Minnesota Loons and No. 3 Minnesota Lakers. They are 4-3-3 against teams in the field. Pens Elite has been off since a 4-1 victory against the No. 29 Cleveland Lady Barons March 27. They have won five of their last seven games entering Nationals and are 9-11-2 vs. teams in the tournament. CYA has won its last four contests heading into Nationals and is 3-4-1 against Nationals’ qualifiers, including a victory against the top-ranked Chicago Mission. The Pride, who played a very abbreviated schedule this year, are 0-2-0 vs. qualifying teams.
#1 Chicago Mission – 27-4-1
#7 Philadelphia Jr. Flyers – 31-9-4
#12 LA Lions – 23-4-0
#31 Buffalo Bisons – 13-7-4
The top-ranked Mission have suffered only four losses on the year – against the No. 10 Chicago Young Americans and No. 6 Little Caesars (three losses). But they also beat each of those teams and have lost only once since Jan. 2, bringing an eight-game unbeaten streak into Nationals. The Mission also are 13-1-1 in their last 15 outings and 9-4-0 vs. the tournament field. Because of COVID restrictions, the Jr. Flyers played No. 8 Pens Elite, their in-state rival, 12 times to ensure as strong a schedule as possible. They went 5-5-2 in those games and are 9-2-1 against other tournament qualifiers. The Lions managed to play 27 games during the Year of COVID despite their location on the West Coast. LA only dropped four contests, outscoring their opponents, 122-34. Three of their losses were against Nationals’ qualifiers, with two of those coming against the No. 1 Mission. The Lions are 3-3-0 vs. tournament qualifiers. Buffalo went 3-1-1 in the New York state championship tournament to earn its Nationals’ berth. The Bisons are unbeaten in six of their last seven contests (5-1-1) and are 0-2 against the field.
#3 Minnesota Lakers – 20-5-1
#6 Little Caesars – 32-13-3
#24 Team Colorado – 30-9-1
#27 NJ Colonials – 21-10-6
The No. 3 Lakers lost only five games during their late summer/fall schedule, with four of those setbacks coming against top-10 teams. They concluded the campaign by going 7-2-1 in their final 10 games. Minnesota is 4-3-0 against teams that qualified for Nationals. Little Caesars managed to play 48 games during this difficult season, and LC was willing to go anywhere and everywhere to take on top competition. They are 9-11-1 vs. tournament teams and skated to three victories against the top-ranked Chicago Mission. The Colonials are 3-0-1 in their last four games heading into Nationals after dropping a pair of games to the No. 7 Jr. Flyers March 13. They are 2-5-0 vs. other teams in the tournament. Team Colorado dropped just nine of its 40 games, with three of three of their losses coming against top-10 team. TC is 1-3-0 against the field, including a win against No. 8 Pens Elite.
#4 East Coast Wizards – 29-2-1
#5 Minnesota Walleye – 17-5-4
#18 Hartford Jr. Wolfpack – 20-6-6
#21 Team North Dakota – 7-11-2
The Wizards enter Nationals after posting a combined 16-1-0 record in the fall and winter seasons while playing in the very strong New England Girls Hockey League. They lost just four games overall, falling to the 15th- and 16th-ranked teams, but are 4-1-1 in their last six games and 22-1-1 in their last 24 heading into Nationals. They are 1-0-1 vs. teams that qualified for Nationals. The Walleye, like the Lakers and Green Giants, played all of their games in the late summer and fall. Four of their five losses came against teams in the Nationals’ field, and three were against top-10 teams. The Walleye are 3-4-3 against tournament teams, including wins against the No. 3 Minnesota Lakers and No. 6 Little Caesars. Like many, Hartford had an on-again, off-again, season but managed to squeeze in 32 games. They split a pair of games against the No. 27 N.J. Colonials in their only contests against Nationals’ qualifiers. Team North Dakota faced many of the Minnesota AAA teams this season, including the top-five Lakers, Walleye and Green Giants. They were a combined 1-4-0 vs. those teams, earning a 3-2 victory over the fifth-ranked Walleye Oct. 17 in their second-to-last game.
Tier 1 Girls 19U National Championship
#2 Shattuck-St. Mary’s – 26-7-4
#14 Dallas Stars Elite – 23-16-0
#20 Team Illinois – 22-16-2
#44 Anaheim Lady Ducks – 9-16-1
No. 2 Shattuck overcame several stops and starts to its schedule to find its normal spot at or near the top of the national rankings. The highest-ranked team at 19U Nationals, the Sabres were off from mid-November until mid-January and concluded their season Feb. 28 with a 2-1 win against No. 14 Dallas Stars Elite, who they will face in pool play. Prior to that victory, Shattuck dropped games against the Stars and No. 12 Belle Tire, halting a nine-game unbeaten streak. The Sabres are 12-3-3 vs. Nationals’ qualifiers, with the losses coming against Dallas, Belle Tire and the No. 4 Chicago Mission. Stars Elite opened its season with four straight losses before rebounding to finish the campaign by going 23-12-0. They are 8-8-0 vs. qualifying teams. Team Illinois faced USA Pool-foe Shattuck three times, going 0-3-0, but they are 5-6-0 against other teams in the field, including a victory against the No. 4 Chicago Mission. The Lady Ducks swept the No. 49 Seattle Lady Admirals to capture the Pacific District title. They are 1-7 against Nationals’ qualifiers.
#4 Chicago Mission – 20-5-2
#10 Selects Academy at Bishop Kearney – 31-9-6
#26 Culver Academy – 21-17-1
#34 NJ Titans – 6-10-1
The fourth-ranked Mission played 17 of their 27 games against teams they could face at Nationals, going 11-4-2 against tournament teams. Chicago lost its first two games of the season to No. 12 Belle Tire before going 20-3-2 the rest of the way. Other losses were against No. 24 Pens Elite, No. 20 Team Illinois and again vs. Belle Tire. They have won five of their last six contests heading into Nationals. Selects is another team that plays an ambitious schedule, with 17 of their games coming against possible Nationals’ opponents. They are 9-5-3 against tournament qualifiers. Culver is playing their best hockey at the right time with seven straight wins and victories in 10 of their last 11 contests coming into Nationals. Prior to that recent stretch, Culver had posted a 11-16-1 record. They are 5-11-0 against the tournament field. The Titans were hampered by COVID-related stoppages throughout the season and are 0-5-0 against Nationals’ Qualifiers.
#6 Honeybaked – 37-14-5
#7 Philadelphia Jr. Flyers – 37-14-6
#19 Chicago Young Americans – 11-14-4
#36 Team North Dakota – 6-11-4
No. 6 Honeybaked played 24 games against teams that qualified for Nationals, going 13-8-3 in those contests and 24-6-2 against other opponents. They won two of three against No. 12 Belle Tire, with each game decided by a single goal and two 1-0 decisions, to earn the Michigan state championship and automatic bid to Nationals. Honeybaked has won 11 of its last 14 games heading into the tournament. The Jr. Flyers posted a record almost identical to Honeybaked while playing a similar schedule. They are 18-7-2 vs. teams that qualified for Nationals and are unbeaten in their last 16 contests (15-0-1) entering the tournament. The Young Americans weren’t able to get in as many games as Honeybaked or Philly but did manage to play 11 times against teams that are in the Nationals’ field, going 1-9-1 in those contests. North Dakota was 1-1-0 against qualifiers.
#9 Bay State Breakers – 21-5-1
#12 Belle Tire – 30-14-6
#22 St. Louis Lady Blues – 13-15-0
#33 Washington Pride – 3-11-3
The ninth-ranked Breakers suffered four of their five losses playing in the tough New England Girls Hockey League, which features three of the nation’s top-10 teams. Bay State’s other loss was a non-league setback also against a NEGHL foe. The Breakers have been off since a 3-0 victory against the No. 8 East Coast Wizards Jan. 10. They won their last four games leading up Nationals and won their only game against a tournament qualifier when they knocked off the Jr. Flyers, 2-1 in overtime, Sept. 6. Bay State was only allowed to play in-state opponents for the majority of its season. Belle Tire seems to show up on all the top teams’ schedules as they played one of the nation’s five most-difficult schedules and compiled a 16-12-4 mark against Nationals’ qualifiers. That record included a victory and scoreless tie against No. 2 Shattuck. The Blues beat the No. 21 Madison Capitols and No. 20 Team Illinois to capture the Central District championship and earn the trip to Nationals. They have won six straight entering Nationals and are 3-9-0 vs. tournament teams. The Pride were forced to play a shortened season but managed to qualify for Nationals coming out of the Southeastern District. Their wins came against No. 24 Pens Elite, the No. 40 Milwaukee Jr. Admirals and No. 43 Little Caesars. They are 0-6-0 against Nationals’ qualifiers.