18U AND 16U
Congratulations to the Colorado Thunderbirds 18U team as they are headed to the USA Hockey National Tournament after winning the Rocky Mountain District Championship in Gilbert, Arizona.
The Thunderbirds opened the tournament with a tough 4-0 loss against in-state rivals, the Rocky Mountain Roughriders. The next game saw another familiar opponent in the Dallas Stars Elite 18U team. This is where goaltender Jonah Giem began to take over the tournament for the Thunderbirds. A hard hitting, fast paced game saw the two teams tied 1-1 at the end of overtime. Giem would make 9 out of 10 stops and Captain Brody Medeiros would notch the game winner in the shootout. To get to the championship game, the Thunderbirds would again rely on Giem against Jr. Coyotes Elite out of Phoenix, AZ. A rebound goal from Peyton Manning with just over 20 seconds remaining in overtime would give the Thunderbirds the win and a spot in the District Championship Game. The Thunderbirds and Roughriders would meet yet again in the final game for a chance to go to the National Tournament. A second period goal by the Roughriders would open the scoring before Jake Adkins redirected a shot from Cole Cavey to tie the game at one in the third period. For a third game in a row, the Thunderbirds saw themselves in another overtime contest. The two teams would trade scoring chances in the extra frame before Ross Hanson was able to knock home a rebound shot with just under 7 minutes remaining to give the Thunderbirds the win.
We wish the Colorado Thunderbirds 18U and the 16U Teams the very best of luck as both teams will now travel to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, April 6-10 to compete in the USA Hockey National Championships. Tbirds 18U advances to their fifth National Championships Tournament in the past eight years. The Tbirds 16U earned a spot this season to their eighth National Championships Tournament in the past twelve years by being selected from the USA Hockey Nationals Selection Committee as one of three teams in the Nation selected at-large. At-large teams are selected by the Nationals Selection Committee based on their overall success during the season, rankings, compete level, as well as other information the Selection Committee deems necessary to pick the most qualified teams. Congratulations to both teams, and we look forward to watching the teams compete for Nationals!