16U Tournament Closes The Book on 2022 Spring Tournament Series
There was only one team that traveled to and from Exeter, New Hampshire, this past weekend without enduring a single loss.
The TPH Selects are the 2022 champions of the 16U World Selects Trophy.
In a battle of the top two teams at the tournament, the TPH Selects — the No. 1 seed after an undefeated run through preliminary round play in Group B — beat the New Hampshire Jr. Wildcats, the top team from Group A.
TPH prevailed 6-2 in the final, thanks in large part to a two-goal and one-assist outing from Luke Melnik and a dominating defensive performance from the entire Selects roster. Goaltender Owen Lepak only faced nine shots in the title game, making his life easier after playing in all eight contests for the Selects club. He was stellar throughout, posting a 1.57 goals-against average and .924 save percentage in the preliminary round and a 1.00 and .947 in the three-game postseason.
Lepak saw a little more action in the quarterfinals and semifinals, but he received plenty of offensive support throughout. In the quarters on Sunday, the TPH Selects beat Boston Hockey Club 5-0; Lepak made 21 saves in that one. Then in the semis, he turned in a 26-save performance in a 7-1 win over the RSG Selects.
The offensive firepower TPH brought to the tournament was on display throughout, as they out-scored their competition 44-12 over the eight games. Michael Barron led the team in scoring with nine points in the preliminary round and four in the postseason for a total of 13 in eight games. With an impressive six points in the playoff rounds, Melnik finished with 12 on the week, and Cam Springer finished with 11.
The TPH Selects roster, coached by Jason Deskins and Troy Barron, was built primarily from AAA players from Michigan, with Massachusetts natives Michael Munroe and Aiden Brown, and Ohio natives Cooper Struckel and Chase Nyitray joining in on the fun.
Their lone blemish in the entire tournament came from needing a shootout win to beat RSG 5-4 in the preliminary round; TPH made up for that with the 7-1 win over the same squad in the semifinals.
Meanwhile, the NH Jr. Wildcats did everything they could to defend home ice in the prestigious international tournament. After dominating Group A with a +18 goal differential and a 4-1-0 record, they took down NorthStar Elite 1-0 in the quarterfinals, and then the Czech Selects 3-2 in the semifinals. The semifinal victory over the Czechs erased the Wildcats’ lone loss in the prelims, after the Czechs got them 3-1 on May 28.
Ronnie Hill led the Wildcats in scoring, recording nine points in the five preliminary-round games before adding three more in the three postseason matches. He was matched by forward Max Dineen, who had 11 points in the round robin before registering one in the postseason.
Chris Dakers and Camden Moran split time between the pipes for NH, while Moran took care of crease duties in the postseason. He finished with a 1.83 goals-against average and .910 save percentage in eight games, while Dakers wrapped up with a 1.00 goals-against and .939 save percentage in three outings.