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Atlantic and Minnesota Districts Ready For Championship Showdown

By Justin Felisko, 06/30/24, 8:30PM EDT

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Boys 17 National Festival championship game airs Monday at 10:30 a.m. ET live on USAHockeyTV.com

AMHERST, N.Y. – No championship journey is ever going to be easy, and that was certainly the case for the Minnesota and Atlantic Districts on Sunday at the USA Hockey Boys National 17 Festival.

Minnesota overcame a 3-0 deficit and stormed back with five unanswered goals to defeat the Rocky Mountain District, 5-3, and advance to Monday’s championship game at Northtown Center at Amherst.

“It's been a long week for these guys, and I am really proud they stuck with and grinded it out towards the end,” said Adam Krause, head coach of the Minnesota District team. “Hockey's an emotional game. So obviously the emotions, you can get frustrated. The message is you don't play to the score, you just play the right way and good things will happen.

“We've talked a lot about taking pride in where you're from, whether it's Minnesota or Mass or wherever that is. It's important what your background is and that you represent it the right way. We're fortunate in Minnesota to have good hockey players. We want them to represent the state not only on the ice but off the ice, and they've done a good job doing both.”

Just across the hallway on another sheet of ice, the Atlantic District’s Caleb Kim scored on the power play with 12:10 remaining in the game to break a 1-1 tie and lead his district to a 3-1 victory over the Northern Plains and a spot in the championship game.

“There was just a little scramble in front, and I just took the shot,” Kim said. “It’s an unbelievable feeling. Everyone's hyped up. Everyone is excited.

“There's a lot of amazing players here. You just have to keep working hard and keep getting better. This camp is very fun and there are a lot of elite players. We are getting a lot of good competition. Minnesota is undefeated. Hopefully we can come out and win the whole thing.”

Fans can watch the championship game Monday at 10:30 a.m. ET on USAHockeyTV.com.

The Minnesota District has been a juggernaut at this week’s USA Hockey Player Development Camp and won the National Division with a perfect 5-0 record. Minnesota has a festival-best 27 goals scored and a 14-plus goal differential.

Forward Mason Moe leads all 216 players at camp with 10 points and eight assists.

“Our line has been playing good and we are moving the puck well,” Moe said. “I just try to create plays when I am out there. We have a lot of pride for Minnesota. We have known each other and grew up with each other. We are all pretty tight, and hopefully we can come out on top.”

In fact, Moe has known Mason Jenson, who scored the go-ahead goal with 3:15 remaining in the game, since they were 10 years old. Jenson found the back of the net by firing home a shot from the right slot on a cross-ice feed from Moe.

“We are a tight group of guys,” Moe, who had a three-point game, continued. “We came together at the intermission and talked up each other and turned it up.”

Jenson added, “We just kind of told everybody to keep going. We just stuck to the gameplan, and our coaches were telling us to keep working. We just kept shooting and finding a way to crash the net.”

Now the Minnesota District is 50 minutes away from potentially winning the Boys 17 National Festival championship.

“It feels amazing to be in this game,” Jenson concluded. “All of us have kind of grown up playing together or competing against each other. It just feels good to kind of bond together and really showcase all our talent, skill, hard work and determination to all the other states and districts out here and show that we can win this whole thing.”

The Atlantic District (4-1) won the American Division via a head-to-head tiebreaker courtesy of its 3-2 victory over the New England District, who also finished pool play with 10 points, on Wednesday. Two of the Atlantic District’s victories in Amherst have come in the shootout.

Tommy Davis, the head coach for the Atlantic District, is an assistant coach at Princeton University and said there is certainly a personal connection for he and his staff to the Atlantic District.

“I played in the district and we all coach and live in the district, so we have a lot of pride in it,” Davis said. “It’s also about the other four guys in the room (from other states) who we added as imports. We are playing for them too.  

“We just have asked the guys to do simple hockey things all week. Stay above the puck, work hard, take short shifts, shoot the puck and get to the net. All the cliches. Our guys have bought in more than other teams. We have good goaltending. We've got a big D core that's mobile and we play a simple game. It is a pretty tight tournament. Everybody's pretty good.”

Ethan Chen had two goals in the victory over Northern Plains Sunday and said the Atlantic District locker room is certainly looking to make their district proud this week in New York.

“The number one thing we're playing for right now is our district,” Chen, who first learned to skate in Beijing when he was 4 years old, said. “We're here to represent our Atlantic District. We're just here to show the world, the country and USA Hockey what we can do as a team.

“Hopefully the next thing we will do is get the job done and win a championship.”

TALE OF THE TAPE

Atlantic (4-1) vs. Minnesota (5-0)

Goals For: Atlantic (15) | Minnesota (27)
Goals Against: Atlantic (15) | Minnesota (13)
Power-Play Goals: Atlantic (1) | Minnesota (4)
Power-Play Goals Against: Atlantic (3) | Minnesota (1)
Penalty Minutes: Atlantic (16.5) | Minnesota (50.5)

LEADING SCORERS

Goals: Atlantic (Chase Jette-3) | Minnesota (Parker Deschene & Gavin Katz-4)
Assists: Atlantic (Five players tied at 2) | Minnesota (Mason Moe-8)
Points: Atlantic (Ethan Chen & Nicholas Sykora-4) | Minnesota (Mason Moe-10)

BETWEEN THE PIPES

All 12 teams at the Boys National 17 Festival have rotated their goalies throughout the week’s competition. Every game is two 25-minute periods.  

Here is a brief look at the goalies for the Atlantic and Minnesota Districts.

Atlantic District

Ryan Cameron (2.80 GAA | .896 SV%)
Leon Chapkis (3.20 GAA | .857 SV%)

Minnesota District

Cal Conway (2.40 GAA | .903 SV%)
Carter Casey (2.80 GAA | .904 SV%)

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