WEST CHESTER, Pa.  — As the road to nationals careens towards its inexorable conclusion, each game carries the weight of an entire season’s worth of hockey. Every team has worked tirelessly to reach this point, but now, it’s win or go home. Who will represent the Atlantic Affiliate at the USA Hockey National Champions?

Girls 16U AAA

It was a terrific, back-and-forth series between the New Jersey Colonials and Philadelphia Jr. Flyers all weekend long. The Colonials took Game 1, riding a hot 3-0 run to begin the game to cruise to a 4-1 romp. From that point on, the Flyers were staring down elimination with every game. They maintained their composure, marching right back to take Game 2 in a similar fashion as their opponents the day before: starting with a 3-0 run to start the game, ultimately winning 6-3. It all led to a decisive Game 3, with a district championship and a trip to Nationals on the line. 

Scoring was difficult to come by in this one — uncharacteristic for this series. Neither team gave an inch to start the contest, and both teams were scoreless through the first period. That all changed when there was a flurry of power play goals to start the second. The Flyers got the better of that exchange, taking a 2-1 lead into the third period. Shortly afterwards, the Colonials’ Molly Brozowski scored with nine minutes remaining to tie the game once again. Tie game. Tied series. Minutes remaining. Who would advance to Nationals? Rosalie Forister answered that question with a thunderous answer: “Flyers.” She scored with three minutes remaining to complete the series comeback and deliver a District Championship for her team. They’ll now take their considerable momentum to Wesley Chapel, Florida to compete at Nationals.

13 Only AAA

The North Jersey Avalanche and Philadelphia Jr. Flyers went head-to-head for a shot at making history — with the winner becoming the first 13 Only team to represent the Atlantic Affiliate at Nationals.

The Avalanche weren’t deterred by their defeat in the first game of the series. Instead, with their backs to the walls, they brought the fight to their favored opponent. They scored the first goal of the game shorthanded, announcing their intentions to not go gently into the good night. The Flyers tied the game a few minutes later, and the stage was set for a highly competitive game. 

The second period was characterized by stifling defense, until Christopher Pinko was able bury a goal with thirty seconds remaining, giving the Avalanche a narrow lead heading into the third period. After some more iron-clad defense, it appeared the Avalanche were well on their way to pulling off the upset and forcing a game three, but the Flyers’ Ty McGroarty whistled one past the goalie to tie the game up and send it to overtime. There, the Flyers demonstrated a relentless attack, pouring on shots while rarely conceding any on their end. The Avalanche could only hold back the tide for so long, and finally relented a goal. The Flyers won the game, the district championship and earned themselves a coveted spot at Nationals. 

PA 14U AA 

The Wissahickon Warriors put themselves in a hole early against Genesis Hockey Club this weekend, as they dropped the first game of the series 3-1. From that point on, they’ve been locked in. Facing elimination, the Warriors managed to score three clutch goals in the third period to come from behind and force a Game 3. In that fateful game — the biggest of the Warriors’ season — they turned in the best performance of their post-season thus far. William Podulka, Patrick Lunsford and Henry Rademacher all scored goals to beat Genesis 3-0 and bring the district championship back to Wissahickon.  They’ll now take all of that fight and perseverance on the road when they compete at Nationals. 

Jack Williams