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USA Hockey Women's National Championships Conclude

by Staff Writer / San Jose Sharks
The nation’s best women hockey players skated into Silicon Valley last weekend to compete in the 2007 USA Hockey Women’s National Championships. The Women’s Senior A, B and C divisions wrapped up their tournament on Sunday, crowning champions in each division.
 
Click here to see a video report on the tournament from KTVU Channel 2.
 
Competing in the tournament from this weekend (March 28-April 1) are USA Hockey Girls’ 12, 14, 16 and 19 & under age groups. The largest ice hockey tournament ever held in California continues at Logitech Ice, the official practice facility of the San Jose Sharks.
 
When finished, the two-week event will feature 80 teams and thousands of players. Their families and fans have booked more than 5,000 hotel rooms in San Jose. Logitech Ice, one of just seven four-rink facilities in the U.S., is the largest public hockey facility west of the Mississippi
 
The San Jose Jr. Sharks Girls’ Ice Hockey program (part of the San Jose Jr. Sharks) is one of the fastest growing girls’ hockey organizations in the United States, recognized as having one of the top girls’ programs in the Pacific District and its teams compete against squads all across North America. In three years, the club has grown from three girls' teams with 35 players to five girls' teams with more than 100 players, plus two senior women’s' teams.
 
For further information, schedules and results on Nationals, please visit the USA Hockey Nationals website at http://www.usahockey.com/2007_nationals/main_site/main/home/.
 
Thanks to Red Line Editorial, Inc. for portions of the Women’s tourney recaps.
 
WOMEN’S SENIOR A RECAP
 
The Needham Huskies came into USA Hockey's 2007 National Championships as the Women's Senior A defending champions. They weren’t about to let go of their crown too easily.
 
No one knew that better than the Minnesota Blue J’s.
 
But the Blue J’s weren’t about to just lay down, either, as the Minnesota club upended the defending champions, 2-0, Sunday evening to capture the 2007 Senior A title.
 
Angie Rieger sealed the Blue J’s victory with six minutes left in the game by redirecting a shot that just squeezed past Needham goalie Erika Silva.
 
Silva, who made 58 saves in the Huskies’ 2-1 win over Assabet Valley in Sunday morning’s marathon semifinal, kept the Huskies in the game by denying several quality scoring chances on the Needham net.
 
Minnesota’s path to the title game was much easier than Needham’s, as the Blue J’s downed Malone, 3-1, in Friday’s opener; defeated Assabet Valley, 3-1, on Saturday; and closed out round robin action with a 6-2 win over the host Pacific District Selects. Minnesota topped Buffalo/Depew, 6-0, in the semifinals, as Ali Annunziato scored four goals to send the Blue J’s into the final.
 
Needham’s path to the finals began on Friday with a 4-1 win over Michigan, and followed up with a 6-3 win over Buffalo/Depew Saturday before closing out round robin action with a 5-1 victory over Team Connecticut. Sunday morning’s semifinal matched the Huskies up with the in-state Massachusetts rival of Assabet Valley, and the Huskies would need to play 10 periods of hockey before finally dispatching their rivals, 2-1, on a goal to advance to the title game.
 
WOMEN’S SENIOR B RECAP
 
Winning a national championship requires putting in a lot of extra work. Just ask the Minnesota J Hawks.
 
After surviving a three-overtime battle in Sunday morning’s semifinal with the New York Raiders, the J Hawks stormed to a 6-1 victory over the O’Leary Hawks in the afternoon’s 2007 Women’s Hockey Division B national championship game at Logitech Ice Center.
 
Lindsey Wild scored two goals and Robin Marvin was brilliant in net for Minnesota, keeping O’Leary off the board until Crystal Miotke’s goal with 0.5 seconds left in the game.
 
Having survived their six period semifinal game against their rivals from New York, the J Hawks quickly shrugged off any thoughts of a letdown or tired legs by dominating the action in the opening period.
 
With the puck seemingly stuck in the Hawks defensive zone, the J Hawks swarmed the net and Wild got the scoring started off a solid pass from Jenny Sorensen with 4:33 left in the opening period.
 
But Minnesota broke the game wide open in the second period, getting goals from Kyleen Stevens, Wild, Nichole Greco and Laurie Richmond to all but seal the game before the third period began.
 
Minnesota started the tournament with a 4-1 win over San Jose and a 3-1 victory over the New York Raiders on Friday before closing out round robin action on Saturday with a 6-1 victory over the Maine Lightning and a 5-0 win over the Maine Mosquitos in the quarterfinals. But the J Hawks would need three overtimes in the semifinals to dispatch the Raiders for a second time, this time getting a Robin Marvin power-play goal to advance to the title game.
 
But Minnesota still managed to finish undefeated for the entire tournament and brings home the banner everyone else was shooting for.
 
O’Leary opened the tournament with a 2-2 tie with the Raiders and a 1-1 tie with the Lightning on Friday. Saturday saw the Hawks close out round robin action with a 2-0 win over San Jose before edging the Philadelphia Freeze 3-2 in the quarterfinals. O’Leary broke open a tight contest with two second-period goals in a 3-0 semifinal win over the Lightning to claim a berth in the final game.
 
WOMEN’S SENIOR C RECAP
 
Losing your first two games of the entire season at the national championship tournament, with both coming in the three-game round robin, is not considered the orthodox path to a National championship.
 
But considering the history of the Cape Cod Black Dog team from Massachusetts, the unorthodox path is right up their alley.
 
Cape Cod captured the 2007 Women’s Senior C Hockey National Championship on Sunday with a 2-0 victory over Rhode Island, handing the Black Dog the championship in the club’s first year of existence.
 
But the dream very nearly turned into a nightmare for Cape Cod, who went through the entire season undefeated until Friday’s opening games in the round robin.
 
Cape Cod’s journey to the final game started as the Black Dog stumbled to two straight losses. The first came at the hands of Tampa Bay in a 4-0 stunner and was followed by a second loss, this time at the hands of Mission in a 5-2 defeat. But Cape Cod rebounded on Saturday with a 10-0 rout over the Minnesota Mustangs to close out round robin play and a 3-0 win over the St. Louis Red Raiders in the quarterfinals.
 
Cathy Silva, who scored three goals for Cape Cod as the Black Dog avenged one early loss and rolled to a 4-1 win over Mission in the semifinals on Sunday, scored her division-leading ninth goal of the tournament to give Cape Cod a 1-0 lead in the opening period of Sunday’s championship game.
 
Silva would score four short-handed goals during Saturday’s games as she all but single-handedly kept the Black Dog in the hunt for the national title.
 
It was all the offense Cape Cod would need, but Amy Mulvey powered in another goal for Cape Cod off a Silva assist in the second period.
 
Cape Cod’s defense and goalie Susan Mead made sure that the two goals stood up in a brilliant defensive effort against the Panthers. Cape Cod also got a huge boost from a very boisterous, cow-bell ringing following in the stands as the Black Dog fans kept their team motivated throughout Sunday’s title game.
 
Rhode Island’s run to Sunday’s finale began on Friday with a 3-3 tie with the Utah Storm and a 4-4 tie with the Phoenix Scorpions. The Panthers handed Concord a 3-2 defeat on Saturday and followed that win with an identical 3-2 victory over Wheatfield to advance to Sunday morning’s semifinal victory against Tampa Bay.
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