The Phoenix Coyotes want to take a chance and recognize youth hockey around the Valley. In this installment of "Local Hockey Heroes" the Coyotes want to congratulate the Peoria Roadrunners U18 AA Midget hockey club. The Roadrunners recently captured the State title with a win over the DYHA Firebirds.
It feels great to be the State champions. Just ask the Peoria Roadrunners U18 Tier II team. The team showed a lot of pride and poise as they captured the title on Sunday in a 4-3 overtime win against the DYHA Firebirds.
The quest for the Championship began against the DYHA Firebirds. The Roadrunners peppered the opposing goaltender with 43 shots while only allow 14. With solid skating, they dominated the flow of the game. Unfortunately, the final score is the only statistic that matters and the Roadrunners ended up on the wrong side of the ledger with a 3-1 loss.
Next, they faced the Phoenix Jr. Polar Bears and with a workman-like effort, cruised to a 4-1 victory. Max Clark, Jesse Barnett, Chad Gibbs and Tyler Pang all scored goals for the Roadrunners.
In the third game of the tournament, the Roadrunners faced the Tucson Ice Dogs, who are a very physical team and were in a must-win situation. The game was nip and tuck all the way with the Ice Dogs holding on to a 2-0 lead late into the 3rd period. With only two minutes to play in regulation, a ruckus broke out in front of the Ice Dogs' net involving six players. Once the officials got the situation under control, all six players received a 5-minute major including the Ice Dogs' goalie. They were forced to put in their back-up netminder. From the Roadrunners' perspective, you couldn't have written a better script.
With 1:15 to go, the Roadrunners cut the lead in half with goal by Daryll Health. Then with just five seconds left, they tied it up with a goal by Jesse Barnett. Then the unbelievable happed. The Roadrunners were able to win the face-off at center ice and get the puck to Daryll Health who fired a shot into an open net with 0.1 for the game winner. The Ice Dogs had pulled their goalie because they needed a win to advance. Afterwards, Roadrunners Head Coach Shawn Babin said, "We snatched victory out of the jaws of defeat. This team showed a lot of resiliency and has a lot of heart."
The Championship game was a rematch against the DYHA Firebirds who the Roadrunners dominated in their previous match, but had also ran into a hot goalie. This time, the Roadrunners jumped out to 3-0 lead with goals by Andrew Gauthier, Tanner Bayne and Joey Rosenberg. They looked to be on their way to claiming the title. However, in a role reversal of the previous game, the Firebirds scored three goals in the final five minutes forcing overtime. But with their competitive juices flowing, Andrew Gauthier set up by Dustin Wood and Joey Rosenberg, ended the game by scoring 21 seconds into the extra period for a 4-3 victory.
"We knew what we had to do and went out and did it," said Roadrunners Head Coach Shawn Babin. "Andrew Gauthier had a monster game. Sammy Bowen was solid between the pipes all week. We're going to savor this victory."
The next stop for the Roadrunners is Denver on March 9-12 for the National Championships. Go get'em boys!
COMPLETE PEORIA ROADRUNNERS U18 AA MIDGET TEAM ROSTER
Head Coach: Shawn Babin
(story provided by peoriaroadrunnershockey.com)