The Leominster Rams won their sixth straight Can Am Invitational with a thrilling, 2-1 overtime win over the up-and-coming Leominster Americans.
Tournament MVP Bobby Housser scored both goals in the final, including the game-winner at 2:29 of overtime. After a face-off win by Kevin Lizotte, Housser took the ball end to end before snapping a shot past Americans goalie Chris Nikitas, who had stopped 38 of the previous 39 shots. Nikitas, who had shutouts in the quarterfinals and semifinals, earned Most Valuable Goalie honors.
Housser, who had 12 assists but just one goal coming into the final, tied the game just seconds into the third, one-timing a pass from Cody Warila (9-4-13). The Americans had held a 1-0 lead since Jordan Senecal’s goal with 2:35 to play in the first period, with the assist going to Mike DeFazio.
Housser’s MVP was his fifth in the last eight major tournaments and comes on the heels on being named the top forward at the World Street & Ball Hockey Championships in June.
Steve Kendall, who led all defensemen in scoring with 6 points – including a goal in the Rams’ semifinal win over the Breakaway Stars (Boston, Mass.) – was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Defenseman for the third consecutive year. He has won MVD in four of the last eight major tournaments.
Sandro Grutti made 27 saves for the Rams, who held a 40-28 shot advantage in the game.
The Rams advanced to the final with a 4-3 win over the Stars I the semifinals, and a 3-1 win over Elite in the quarterfinals. Warila led the way against Elite with a pair of goals and an assist, while Housser added two assists. Lizotte scored the other goal, while Conan Langlois had an assist. Nick Perla played well in goal. Korey Wilson had the lone goal for Elite.
Josh McKenna netted a pair of second-period goals while Kendall and Lizotte added single goals as the Rams built a 4-0 lead in the semifinals. The Stars battled back, getting two goals from perry Mastropietro and another from Dave Purcell before falling short. Tony Carideo played well in relief of starter Denny Beaupre for the Stars, while Grutti played well for the Rams.
The Americans, meanwhile, rode the back of Nikitas to the final. Nikitas posted shutouts in a 3-0 quarterfinal win over Fall River, Mass. and a 1-0 win over the Hudson, Mass. Celtic in the semifinal. Josh Merchant netted a pair of goals in the win over Fall River, while Nick Long added a goal. Nick CatretrDan Pozerycki and Senecal added assists.
Alberto Fiore scored the lone goal against Hudson, converting a pass from Cory Fredrickson. Brad Lagace also assisted on the goal. Matt Gilchrest played a strong game in goal for the Celtic, while Luke Jones, Matty Arsenault, Andrew Goduco, and Ryan Kilroy also played well.
Other members of the Rams’ championship team included Dante Suarez, Joe Russo, Tom Perla, Mike Colcord, Doug Croteau, Craig Holman, Dan Richard, Tim Richard, Brad Forest and Jeremy Goguen. Head Coach Chris Housser and Assistants Ray Richard and John Stamas served as the coaching staff.
In the Senior B final, Matt Wheeler scored a pair of goals to lead the LaserCats to a 6-0 win over Liberty. The game was scoreless into the second period, but the Cats scored five goals in a span of 5:47 to blow things wide open. In addition to two goals from Wheeler, the LaserCats got single goals from Casey McNally, Brain Raboin, Jon Pollock and Scott Proctor. Raboin also had two assists, while Tim Schofield, Jon Gendron, and Cody Snow had single assists. David White posted the shutout.
For Liberty, Chris Bachman was outstanding in goal through the entire tournament, including a shutout in the semifinal win over the Redliners. Tim Stalmok, Cory Paul, and Jim Stevens had goals in the semifinals, while Amber Cornwall, Mike Godin, Jim St. Cyr, Eric Iacoboni, Sarah Proctor and Jill Powers played well.