Alaska Oilers 15U team advances to USA Hockey Tier I Nationals
March 16, 2018
The Alaska Oilers U15 AAA team, proud members of the NAPHL, provided an impressive performance at the Pacific District Championships this past weekend in San Jose California to win the U15 AAA Championship Title.
The final game pitted the Alaska Oilers against the hometown favorite San Jose Sharks. San Jose had beat the Alaska Oilers 2-1 the previous day in round robin play, that gave the Sharks the #1 seed headed into the championship game. But the Alaska Oilers proved the better team pulling off a 4-goal third period to win the championship game 4-2.
The win sends the Alaska Oilers U15 AAA team to the USA Hockey Tier I National Championships in Plymouth, Michigan from April 5-10, where they will compete against the top 16 teams in the Nation.
In round robin play the Oilers beat the Anaheim Jr. Ducks 2-0, then the Los Angeles Jr Kings 5-1. This set a round robin showdown against the Sharks. In that game they ran into a motivated Sharks team and hot goalie, because even though they outshot them 47 to 23 the Oilers lost the game 2-1. In the championship game the Oilers appeared to be the better team but could not score. They entered the final period down 2 goals, but about halfway through that period the Oilers finally found the back of the net with a nice goal from forward Alex Kulmanovsky. This got the Alaska Oilers motivated as thirty seconds later right winger Bret Link tied the game up with a great goal in front of the net. After that Alaska dominated the play and with 4 minutes left in the game defensemen Colin Hedland got a pass in the high slot and put a nice wrister into the top right corner for the game winner. Center Nick Ostbloom provide an insurance empty net goal to finish the game. The U15 AAA Alaska Oilers scattered the ice with gloves, sticks and helmets a short while later and celebrated their win.
Assistant Coach Tom Allen is quoted as saying, “Our coaching staff couldn’t be more proud of how these boys played. San Jose played us great and had us against the ropes. But the boys found another level and finished the game as Champions. I know they are looking forwarding to competing at Nationals."
Head Coach Keith Morris said, “We got them pumped up after the second period, but after we left the locker room one of our Captains, Trey Whitehead apparently gave a passionate speech that put the boys over the edge. It’s a great group of boys and they deserve this accomplishment."
Alaska scoring leaders were Nick Ostbloom and Bret Link on the front end; Clay Allen and Trey Whitehead on the back end. Their Goalies Eddie Makar and Talon Wild provided stellar goaltending with 94% and 92% save percentages, respectively.
Alaska had 7 teams in the 9 Tier 1 championship games at the Pacific District, but the U15 AAA were the only team able to advance. They are currently ranked 14th in the Nation and carry a record of 51-13-2.