The 14U Lady Coyotes went to San Jose for MLK weekend and brought the tournament championship banner home for the second year in a row. In game one against the Portland Oregon Winterhawks it was apparent that a trip to Anaheim over Thanksgiving to play in a tournament against 19U and high school teams had paid dividends. Despite being the younger and considerably smaller team, the Lady Coyotes were in control of the game right from the opening faceoff. Isabella Contreras skated around and through the tall trees and deked the goalie to give the Lady Coyotes a 1-0 lead at the first intermission. Willow Troy made it 2-0 in the second, and Isabella Puleo banged in a Grace Mastorakos rebound to make it 3-0 half way through the third. Lauren Squires added an insurance goal to cap the scoring for a 4-0 win. Shots on goal were 36-13 in the Lady Coyotes’ favor. The MVP hat went to defenseman MacKenzie Toporowych, and the Most Inspirational Player award went to goalie Edith Townsend.
Game two against the host Jr. Sharks ended in a 1-1 tie. Despite dominating the game with a 17-6 shots on goal advantage, a defensive breakdown during a penalty kill and stellar goaltending from the Sharks’ goalie resulted in the low scoring deadlock. Trailing 1-0 in the third period, defenseman Kylie Carano got the equalizer on a wrist shot from the point that found its way through traffic and into the net. The MVP hat went to Melanie VanMeer, and the Most Inspirational Player award went to Kylie.
Game three against the Dallas Stars 14U Elite ended with a heartbreaking 4-3 loss. Dallas took a quick 1-0 lead, but a few minutes later Kyra Mittendorf evened the score with a wrister off a pass out of the corner from Victoria Burget. Defenseman Audrey Ju put the Lady Coyotes ahead 2-1 when she shot the puck off an opposing defenseman and into the net. Dallas tied it at 2 in the second period and that score held until there were four minutes left in the game when Kyra scored a second goal short handed from the right circle. It wouldn’t hold up, though. With 1-1/2 minutes left the Stars knotted the score. Then with 30 seconds left the Lady Coyotes received an interference penalty along the boards and the Stars cashed in, scoring the game winner just 10 seconds into the resulting power play. Despite the loss the Lady Coyotes secured a spot in the semi-finals. The MVP hat went to Edith, and the Most Inspirational Player award went to Sophia Ramon.
In the semis it appeared that despite the game being dead even on paper based on earlier tournament results, the Lady Coyotes had a tall task in front of them. Their opponent, the LA Lady Lions, had two distinct advantages heading into the game. First, the Lions had significantly more rest as the Lady Coyotes were playing only 3 hours after the disappointing ending against Dallas. Second, the Lady Lions were looking for revenge from the 2017 championship game won by the Lady Coyotes 3 -0. It soon became obvious that the Lady Coyotes were the better-conditioned team and took control of the game in the first period against the more rested Lions. Just two minutes in, Isabella Puleo lit the lamp. Less than a minute later Kyra took a pass from Delaney McGrath, then skated through traffic and deked the goalie for a 2-0 lead. Lauren and Willow added goals for a 4-0 lead after one period. After a scoreless second period, Kyra again deked the goalie 30 seconds into the third to put the game out of reach. The Lions did manage to score with 4 minutes remaining, but it was too little too late. Willow put the exclamation point on the 6-1 win with a late goal and the Lady Coyotes reached the finals for the second year in a row. The MVP hat went to Isabella Puleo, and the Most Inspirational Player award went to Audrey.
In the title game the Lady Coyotes got a chance for redemption against Dallas, who pummeled the hometown Jr. Sharks 8–0 in the other semi-final. In her finest performance in three seasons as a Lady Coyote, goalie Edith Townsend stopped all 22 shots she faced and led the team to a 1-0 win to bring the banner home for the second year in a row. Defensemen MacKenzie Toporowich, Kylie Carano, Victoria Burget and Audrey Ju limited Dallas’ quality scoring chances and cleared out the rebounds in front of Edith. Despite a 2-on-0 breakaway on Edith and several near misses for both teams, the game was a scoreless tie after two periods. That changed very quickly, however. The Lady Coyotes won the faceoff to start the third period and just 24 seconds in, captain Lauren Squires fired a wrister from the left side that beat the Stars’ goalie near side under the blocker for what turned out to be the banner clinching goal. There were several tense moments over the next 14 plus minutes, including a 5-on-3 penalty kill, but Edith and her teammates would not be denied and this time the Lady Coyotes were able to keep the Stars off the scoreboard down the stretch. The MVP hat went to Edith.
With the win the 14U Lady Coyotes earned their second banner of the season, and their third in the last calendar year. Great job ladies and coaches!