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Hub exclusive: NHL Youth Cup - West brings teams, tournament titles and Lord Stanley's trophy to Colorado

By John Wagner, SportsEngine, 01/17/20, 3:30PM MST

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Four Colorado-based teams took home titles from the youth hockey event hosted by the Avs. But every participant had the opportunity to feel like a champion by posing with the Stanley Cup.


Participants in the NHL Youth Cup — West tournament take selfies with the Stanley Cup. The trophy was in Denver as part of the tournament hosted by the Colorado Avs in early January. Photo courtesy of the Colorado Avalanche

The Stanley Cup was in Colorado on Saturday, Jan. 4, but the players posing for pictures with the ultimate symbol of hockey excellence weren't professionals.

Nope. They were members on some of the country's best youth hockey teams, who were in Denver Jan. 3-5 for the NHL Youth Cup - West tournament.

The event, which was hosted by the Colorado Avalanche, provided mostly NHL-affiliated youth hockey clubs with an opportunity to play in a competitive, cost-effective tournament at rinks in the Denver area. Teams were guaranteed four games and the winners of each age group received an NHL Youth Cup championship banner.

And win or lose, every team in the tournament had a chance to spend some time with the Stanley Cup.

“We gave teams an opportunity to take team photos and individual photos with the Cup,” said Jason MacPherson, the Avs’ program manager for amateur hockey development. “But that wasn’t all we did: We offered player of the game awards for each game in the tournament, and we had each team in the championship games select an MVP of the tournament, and that person got a signed Avalanche team photo as their award.”

“That was a very cool and special experience for us to have state teams win those titles, because the whole tournament featured good hockey between good teams,” MacPherson said. “We have been working to try and grow the game on the girls' side in Colorado, so I think this tournament was a great way to showcase the girls' game here. It was great to see them win both divisions.

“I think we made a statement as to how good Colorado hockey is,” he added.

The Avalanche hosted five division tournaments in all, with the 2005 birth-year boys' tournament won by the Anaheim Jr. Ducks.

Anaheim hosted the three other youth groupings for the 2019-20 West tournaments.

“I think we made a statement as to how good Colorado hockey is”

— Jason MacPherson
Avs’ program manager for
amateur hockey development

This was the first year the Avalanche host the tournament championships, and this was the first time girls' teams competed in the tournament, making for a busy but rewarding weekend of hockey.

“We were very excited to host this tournament. There were a lot of good games with close competition," MacPherson said. "There was good parity throughout the tournament.”

And even though the tourney is over and the Stanley Cup is elsewhere, there still are reminders of the event.

“The teams that won NHL Youth Cup state [qualifier] we hosted in September wore Avs warmups for this tournament,” MacPherson said. “They loved them – they wore them all weekend. And we’ve seen some of them at home events since, and that’s really exciting to us.

Scroll down to read more about the Colorado teams that won titles at the West tournament in Denver. 

Littleton Hawks crush 12U girls' competition


Photo courtesy of Colorado Avalanche

The Littleton Hawks dominated the competition to earn the 12U title, outscoring the opposition 23-1 on the way to four victories.

The Hawks opened with a 6-0 victory over the Colorado Select 12U squad on Friday, then knocked off the Arizona Kachinas 7-0 later that evening. On Saturday, they claimed a 5-1 defeat of the Lady RoughRiders to advance to Sunday’s finals.

In the championship game, the Hawks rolled the Lady RoughRiders 7-0 thanks to a five-goal outburst in the second period. Piper Gwinn led Littleton in the title game with a hat trick, while Kate Analovitch had a pair of goals. Goalie Ava Romanow stopped all nine shots she faced.

For the tournament, Gwinn posted a team-high five goals and also added two assists for seven points, while Claire Jelinek scored three times and added two assists. Romanow allowed just one goal in the tournament for a sparkling 0.25 goals-against average.


Thunderbirds rumble to 10U boys' crown


Photo courtesy of Colorado Avalanche

The Thunderbirds 10U squad won four of the five games they played in the tournament – and avenged their only tournament loss in the championship round.

They opened with an 8-2 win over the Arizona Jr. Coyotes before losing to the Littleton Hawks on Friday, but the team rebounded to claim 4-1 victories over the Anaheim Jr. Ducks and San Jose Jr. Sharks on Saturday.

The Thunderbirds then scored four goals in the second period of a 7-2 victory over the Littleton Hawks in the championship game on Sunday. In that contest, Tyler Muchmore posted a hat trick, while goalie Sydney Kelm held the Hawks off the scoreboard until the third period and finished with 12 saves in the victory.

Grady Anaka led the Thunderbirds in the tournament with 11 points (5 goals, 6 assists), while Muchmore finished with a team-leading seven goals and nine points. Other top scorers were Benjamin Wolfram (3 goals, 6 assists, 9 points) and Aiden Menor (5-1-6). Kelm finished with a 2-1 record and 1.66 goals-against average, while Linden Beal was 2-0 and had a 2.00 GAA. 


Lady RoughRiders win close ones to earn girls' 14U title


Photo courtesy of Colorado Avalanche

The Lady RoughRiders 14U team played five close games, but never faltered and finished as the undefeated champion in their division. 

The Lady RoughRiders opened the event on Friday with a 2-1 victory over the Arizona Kachinas and then added a 3-1 triumph over the Littleton Hawks. On Saturday, the Lady RoughRiders escaped the Colorado Select team twice by scores of 1-0 and 2-0 to reach Sunday’s final.

The championship game with the Arizona Kachinas was scoreless through three periods and one overtime, necessitating the shootout. They secured the title when Masyn Mullin scored for the RoughRiders and goaltender Sarah Craib did not allow the Kachinas to score on three attempts after making 13 saves during live action.

Lexi Mueller and Rowan Harral each had two goals in the tournament for the Lady RoughRiders, who got goals from six different players. But that was enough offense thanks to Craib, who was 3-0 with a 0.50 goals-against average, and Delaney Lawn, who was 2-0 with a 1.00 GAA.


RoughRiders rise to top in 12U boys' division


Photo courtesy of Colorado Avalanche

The RoughRiders 12U squad went 4-1 in the tournament and avenged their lone defeat with a victory in the title game.

They recorded a 3-1 win over the Colorado Rampage to open play Friday, then lost 5-3 to the Colorado Thunderbirds. The RoughRiders faced the Arizona Jr. Coyotes twice on Saturday, with first a 5-2 win and the second a 5-4 win in overtime to advance to the championship round.

The RoughRiders got another shot at the Thunderbirds on Sunday and they did not miss, claiming a 3-2 victory in the championship contest. Gaines Clonts, Benjamin Davis and Charlie Broome recorded goals for the RoughRiders, while goaltender Kody Cadwell made 23 saves to earn the win.

Santino Barloco led the RoughRiders in scoring for the tournament, posting three goals and four assists. Davis and Gabriel Simpson led the team with four goals apiece, while Benjamin Beal had three goals. Cadwell posted a 2-1 record in the tournament while in goal, while fellow goalie Connor McManus was 2-0 with a 3.00 goals-against average.

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