With a 4-3 shootout win over Shattuck-St. Mary’s at this weekend’s Minnesota District Tier 1 Championships, the Minnesota Blue Ox Youth 15 team advanced to the Youth 15 USA Hockey National Championships, which will be held April 1-6, 2020 in Plymouth, Michigan.
The Blue Ox, which consists of players from Minnesota Hockey Districts 11, 12, 15 and 16, earned wins over the League Champion and defending District Champion District 10 Green Giants and Shattuck-St. Mary’s at the Minnesota District Youth 15 Tier 1 Championship. The victories secured the Blue Ox’s second trip to the USA Hockey National Championships in the past three years.
In the District Championship game against Shattuck-St. Mary’s, the Blue Ox jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period on goals by Thomas Schroeder and Sam Sterle. Shattuck-St. Mary’s, led by Jack Larrigan, who had a goal and two assists, tied the game in the second period and appeared to have the game winning goal in the third period, but George Peterson scored a game-tying goal for the Blue Ox with 16 seconds remaining in the game.
After a scoreless overtime, the teams proceeded to a five-player shootout, per USA Hockey rules. Both teams scored on their first two shootout attempts before Kellen Murphy scored the deciding goal for the Blue Ox in the third round of the shootout.
Three 14U Tier I teams already secured their berths to the 2020 USA Hockey National Championships. The champions include the undefeated and League champion District 6 Lakers 14U Girls team, District 3 Walleye 14U Girls and Shattuck-St. Mary’s 14U Youth team. The 14U Girls Tier I teams will compete in the National Tournament in Blaine, MN, while Shattuck-St. Mary’s will head to Chicago, Ill. for the Youth 14U National Tournament.
Minnesota will send four more Tier I teams to the National Championships with four more District Championship games later this fall. The Girls 16U and Girls 19U levels will be determined on October 22 at Plymouth Ice Center. The Youth 16U champion will be decided on November 5 at the Super Rink. The Youth 18U playoffs are to be determined.