There was no place like home for the Rocky Mountain RoughRiders’ 13U AAA team during the North American Hockey League’s Future Prospects Tournament (FPT) from Jan. 13-16.
Playing most of their games at the Sport Stable in Superior, the 13Us ran the table, going 6-0 over the weekend.
“This is really these guys’ first year playing Tier I hockey and it took until about Christmastime for them to fully comprehend what we were asking them to do,” 13U coach Greg Vanover said. “That started to show this weekend.”
The RoughRiders defeated the Arizona Bobcats for a second time over the weekend, 2-1, to take the division championship at the FPT. Slade Streeter and Zane Pickel (power play) scored first-period goals, and Miguel Tanner stopped 24 shots.
The Roughriders had previously edged the Golden State Elite Eagles 1-0 in the semifinals by following a similar formula. Nicholas Yard scored a first-period goal and Tanner posted an eight-save shutout.
“We like to be aggressive offensively while trying to be responsible defensively,” Vanover said. “In the semifinals and championship, they did a really good job defensively.” After an opening 4-2 victory over the San Diego Jr. Gulls, the RoughRiders edged the Evolution Elite Hockey Academy 6-5 and posted three-goal victories over the Bobcats (5-2) and Golden State (7-4).
“Austin Jorde played both games on the first day, and he stole one of those games for us,” Vanover said. “Both goalies had a good weekend. We challenged them a lot at practice (before the tournament), and they both responded well.”
Pickel led the team with 10 points and seven goals in six games. Sean Wilson added eight points (five goals) and Hogan Boyle had six points. Tanner allowed a total of four goals in his four starts and had a .917 save percentage.
That the tournament triumph came at their home rink was icing on the cake. “The facility is a game-changer,” Vanover said. “The energy there is outstanding