This past weekend the Minutemen had 5 teams (15, 04, 05, 07 and 08) battle in the AYHL playoffs.
The 15 team matched up against the New Jersey Avalanche in the semi final and lost 4-0 (with an empty net goal).
The 05 team, who finished 5th in the National Division played the New Jersey Colonials, New Jersey Devils, and the Jr Flyers. In their first game against the NJ Colonials the Minutemen lost 7-1 to the eventual champs. Coach Grimley’s team battled hard against the Devils falling 4-2 in an evenly matched game. In their final game, the team went up 2-0, but the Jr Flyers battled back for a 4-2 (with empty net goal) victory.
The 07 team was the number 2 seed going into the playoffs behind the Long Island Gulls. The team started the weekend with a 7-0 victory against the New Jersey Colonials controlling the play from start to finish. The second game was against the Mercer Chiefs, who they had back and forth battles with over the years. Both teams competed hard for 45 mins with the Minutemen coming out on top 4-1. In the final game of the preliminary round of the playoffs, the Minutemen handled the Avalanche 6-2. The semifinal game was against a very strong Team Maryland. This game was great to watch, back and forth hockey between 2 well coached teams. The Minutemen went up 1-0 in the second period on a power play goal. In the third period, Team Maryland gave all that they had, but the Minutemen’s stingy defense and great goaltending kept the puck out of the net. With just over a minute left in the game, the Minutemen scored an empty net goal to seal the victory and move on to the championship game vs. the top ranked Gulls. This was a heavy weight matchup between the Nationally ranked 6th(Gulls) and 11th(Minutemen). On the first shift of the game, the Gulls went up 1-0, but the Minutemen battled back to tie the game 1-1. With the game tied 1-1 in the second period, the Minutemen scored 2 goals to go up 3-1 going in to the third period. In the third period, the Gulls came out flying, and once again the Minutemen went right back at them. The Gulls scored to make it 3-2 and moments later the Minutemen answered to make it 4-2. The Minutemen were able to put the game on ice with an empty net goal with less than a minute left to make it 5-2. The victory was the first championship of the day for the Minutemen Organization.
The 08 team went in to the playoff weekend as the third seed after a strong regular season. Just like the 07 team, they were able to go 3-0 in the preliminary round of games. They started the weekend with a 4-1 win over the NJ Colonials and later in the day had a gutsy 3-2 victory over Virtua. In the final game the Minutemen controlled the play and came out with 5-4 victory over a strong Long Island Royals team. In the semifinals, the Minutemen squared off against the New Jersey Avalanche. In a dominating performance they won 5-1 showing a great team effort. The finals had the Minutemen matched up against the top ranked Gulls who were undefeated in regular season play. The odds were stacked against the Minutemen, but true to this team’s identity they played tenaciously and great team hockey. The team played great defensively and capitalized on their opportunities. Halfway through the third period, with the Minutemen leading 2-0, the Gulls had an opportunity at a wide open net that the Minutemen goalie made an unbelievable save on to preserve the 2 goal lead. The Gulls kept plugging away and the Minutemen withstood the pressure and sealed the victory with an empty net goal late in the game. That empty net goal clinched the title and the Minutemen’s second championship of the day!
The 04 team was the top seed after winning the AYHL regular season title. In their first game, they played the Little Caps, who were a tough matchup for them during the regular season, as they were 0-2-1 in the 3 league matchups. In a hard fought battle, the Minutemen came up short in a 1-0 loss, which put the champs in a tough spot to advance to the semis. In the second game, the Minutemen faced off against the Whalers in a dominating performance and won 4-0. The third game was do or die, where the winner would advance and loser would go home, the Minutemen faced off against the Devils. Despite heavily outshooting the Devils, the Minutemen squeaked by with a 3-2 win. In the semi-final game, the Minutemen drew their district rival, the Jersey Avalanche. In a hard fought game between 2 of the top teams in the country the Minutemen prevailed 4-2 which sent them to the championship vs the Caps (who beat Team Maryland 3-1 in the other semifinal game). The Minutemen jumped out to a 1-0 lead early in the first period. The Caps battled extremely hard, but the Minutemen were able to play great team defense, which was their staple all season. This game was back and forth action and in the third period the Caps were able to tie the game halfway through the period. With the momentum, the Caps kept pressing and the resilient Minutemen team along with stellar goaltending were able to hold on to send the game in to overtime. In overtime, both teams were flying, giving it all they had to earn the victory. Less than 5 minutes into overtime the Minutemen executed a great transition and zone entry to win the third championship of the day for the Minutemen organization and complete the trifecta!
March 4th will be a day that the Minutemen organization will remember for a long time. We captured 3 leagues titles, which is the most of any of the AYHL clubs. The organization is very proud of the coaches and players for their great efforts over the course of the season. We want to thank all of the parents, players and coaches from all of the teams in our club for their support through the ups and downs along the way. We want to congratulate all of our players, not just the teams who won titles, on great seasons. We still have teams playing in Districts (15s and 04s) and want to wish them the best of luck. As a club, we will continue to work to get better and make it a great experience to wear the Minutemen blue and gold!!!
We are not done yet! Our 15 team will be playing in the district qualifier this weekend in hopes to make the district finals next weekend to earn a birth at nationals. The 04 team has a bye this weekend prior to the district finals next weekend vs an opponent TBD. They will be hard at work practicing in preparation for the opportunity to go to Nationals!!