They say "defense wins championships," and the Santa Clara Blackhawks Peewee AA team provided more evidence of that as they held their opponents to only 4 goals in 6 games on their way to winning the USA Hockey Tier II 12U crown in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
The Blackhawks shut out the Indianapolis Racers, 4-0, in the championship game to become the first-ever team from Northern California to win USA Hockey’s top award.
Mattia Bortolotto opened the scoring at 10:09 of the first period taking a pass in the slot from Wesley Starr and one-timing a shot past the Indianapolis goaltender. Less than three minutes later, Starr banged home a shot in front of the net to put the Hawks up by two in the first period. The goal was scored while the Blackhawks were shorthanded with Ryan Atkinson in the penalty box serving a two-minute minor. Roy Grandov’s aggressive forecheck led to a Racer turnover and the shorthanded tally.
Both teams played strong defensively in the second period, keeping the score at 2-0 for Santa Clara at the end of two periods.
After the second intermission, the Blackhawks got back to work on the power-play with Indianapolis Racer, Hunter Cox serving a two minute penalty for cross-checking. Santa Clara’s power play had been strong all tournament, scoring at a 36% efficiency rating, and at 4:34 of the third period, Theo Tydingco took a pass in the high slot from Ryan Zehnder and snapped a shot past the glove of Racer goalie Griffin Strain to give the Hawks a commanding 3-0 lead.
Zehnder added another goal at 9:41 of the third on an assist from Tydingco and from then on, the Blackhawks defense snuffed out all of Indianapolis’ attacks to preserve the shutout.
Chris Chang was brilliant in goal as he turned away all 14 shots to earn the win. Chang finished the tournament with 5 wins and a goals against average (GAA) of 0.71.
Santa Clara went undefeated throughout the tournament, finishing with a 6-0 record while outscoring their opponents 31 goals to 4 for their opponents.
The Blackhawks end their dream season with an overall record of 43-2-2. Aside from the National Championship, Santa Clara claimed the California Amateur Hockey Association (state), USA Hockey Pacific District, and Silver Stick Regionals titles.