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14U Premier Shine in Season Debut

By Sue Wakefield, 09/19/19, 7:45PM EDT


Rush 14U Premier starts season undefeated in their opening weekend in PA!

With most teams still on summer break, the boys headed to West Chester, PA on August 22 to play five games in about 48 hours in the Eastern Junior Elites Prospect League.  The team finished the weekend second overall in the Diamond division of 25 teams, just one point behind the Clearwater Ice Storm. Michael Bartkowski earned the hard hat of the weekend, scoring 10 goals and the top-scoring spot for all skaters in the entire EJEPL Diamond division. The Reston Raiders proved to be tough competition, keeping a lead through most of the game and answering each Rush goal. The Rush didn’t quit and a surge in the 3rd gave them the lead they were looking for. With just about 3 minutes left, Zach Onze had a shorthanded goal to tie the game, Carter Dougherty had the game-winner with 2:32 left and then Nico Pitale had a long empty-net goal to finish it off.  The final game of the weekend against the Montclair Blues went into dreaded overtime but newcomer Dalton Thomas sealed the win and sent the Rush home undefeated for the weekend.


Just two weeks later the boys were headed to Pennsylvania again, this time to Pittsburgh to play five games against some of the nation’s top teams – all finished near top 50 of the nation last year.  The boys stomped the PHA Icemen (#18 last year) in their first game with a decisive 7-1 win on Friday night. On Saturday, the Mt. Lebanon Hornets (#51 last year) were surprised by their 2-1 defeat and 2-2 tie in back-to-back games. By Sunday morning the physicality of the games was taking its toll as the boys faced off against an imposing roster from the Steel City Renegades (#41 last year). The game finished in a loss with two minor concussions and an injured finger. In the final game of the weekend, the battered boys once again had to face the Icemen who wanted revenge for their Friday beating on home ice. Down one defenseman due to injury, the remaining five had to battle hard to defend. Carson Conklin buddy-taped the fingers on his glove so he could battle through, despite a very swollen finger from the first game of the day. The boys went down 4-0 but never gave up and slowly battled back. At 4-2 a puck was cleared from the Rush end and looked like it was going to be an icing call. Showing his characteristic grit, Zach Onze tore down the ice, grabbed the puck just before the line and wrapped it into the Icemen net to make it a one-goal game. Unfortunately, the clock ran out before the boys could tie it up but some parents were just glad to for the game to end without more injuries! Josh Mann took home the hardhat for his unwavering hard work every shift, all weekend long.


In their first 10 games, the Rush 14U Premier boys have outshot their opponent in every single game. They have scored 53 goals for and only 24 goals against. They are now in the middle of two painful weekends without any games and are looking forward to facing their rivals, the Carolina Hurricanes, on September 28 at 7:00 pm at Extreme Ice. The only person more excited for the next game is Coach Wiklund!