Ice Hawks finish nationals with one point

Rochester Ice Hawks' Cory Volk tries to make a play past Queen City Steam's Chase Thornhill during their tournament match-up Sunday, April 3, 2011 at Graham Arena in Rochester.

The Rochester Ice Hawks can't go back in time. If they could, they'd gladly accept a "do-over" for their first 20 minutes at the USA Hockey Junior A, Tier III National Tournament.

As it stands, the Ice Hawks will be left playing the "what if" game until next season.

The Ice Hawks wrapped up their national tournament Sunday afternoon at Graham Arena IV with a 3-3 tie against the Queen City Steam of the North American Tier III Hockey League.

That left Rochester with a 0-2-1 record at nationals.

After the final horn sounded on the Ice Hawks' season, it was hard not to imagine what might have happened if the Ice Hawks had not put forth a dismal effort in those first 20 minutes Friday night against the Helena Bighorns. The nasty first period resulted in a 4-0 deficit and led to a 6-1 drubbing.


Other than those first 20 minutes, Ice Hawks coach Nick Fatis felt his team played well.

They were much better Saturday night against the Walpole Express. The Ice Hawks ended up suffering a tough 6-5 loss, but Fatis was pleased with his team's effort. Walpole went on to win the pool at a perfect 3-0 and will be the No. 1 seed during today's semifinals.

And Walpole will meet the only other team to defeat Rochester at this year's national tournament — Helena. So two of the final four teams came out of Rochester's pool.

"We were in the best bracket, so at least we've got that," Fatis said. "I said before the tournament I felt Helena and Walpole were two of the best four teams in the country. They're outstanding teams. But the bottom line is that if we come out and play like we can in that first period against Helena, I feel like it's a completely different tournament for us. I think you see a much different team here today."

Sunday's game turned ugly in the second period.

The Ice Hawks went ahead in the first on Rochester native Jake Sikkema's tally. While the first period was very clean, the second period was the exact opposite.

The second period along took more than 50 minutes, and the penalties seemed never-ending. When the period finally was over, Queen City had rolled up a whopping 75 penalty minutes, while the Ice Hawks had 60.

For the game, Queen City finished with 107 penalty minutes on 23 infractions. The Ice Hawks had 18 infractions for 78 minutes.


Queen City tied it 3:44 into the second, but the Ice Hawks went back in front on Trevor Wight's power-play goal at the 7:10 mark. Morgan Sanchez and Shaun Walters picked up the helpers.

The Steam dominated thanks to power plays in the third period. They netted their first power-play goal at the 13:08 mark and took their first lead of the game on another power-play tally at 15:59.

The Ice Hawks pulled their goalie — Lawrence Dvorak — late for an extra attacker, and it paid off. Trevor Lloyd, who has provided many clutch goals for the Ice Hawks this season, slammed home a rebound with just 36 seconds remaining to force overtime.

"That was George Jackson doing most of the work on that one," Lloyd said. "I was just in the right place at the right time."

The Ice Hawks outshot Queen City 4-0 in overtime, but they couldn't light the lamp and had to settle for a tie.

"I don't know what else we could do," Fatis said. "We put shots on goal, we did this right, we did that right. I thought we were three times better than that team, but we didn't show it. At the end of the day, the tie really summed up the tournament for us. Opportunities lost, with a bad bounce here and there, and it's a different game."

Fatis was proud his team showed up to play Sunday, despite being out of semifinals contention.

"I can't believe we showed up at all today, and the kids did. They went out there, outshot the other team by like 15 shots, and that was impressive," Fatis said.


Lloyd, who is in his last year with the Ice Hawks, said it was a disappointing national tournament. They were happy to get the tie, but it was hard not to look back at that first period against Helena and not wonder what might have happened if the Ice Hawks had played better.

"It stinks going out this way, but we had fun and at least we got the tie, and it was an exciting game for the fans," he said. "The puck wasn't bouncing our way the whole weekend. We're disappointed more than we are embarrassed. I wish we could re-do it all, but we can't."

Despite the Ice Hawks' 0-2-1 mark, it seemed to be a successful national tournament for the city of Rochester, which is hosting the event for the first time. The nationals semifinals are at 2:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. today, and the finals are at noon Tuesday.

"I hope we didn't let down Rochester," Fatis said. "It's obviously the best national tournament we've ever been to by far. There were more fans, it was the best setup, and the thoughtfulness that went into everything was amazing. The amateur sports commission put on an amazing tournament. It was tough on us, but I'm not embarrassed by the way we played. I'm proud of this team and the organization."

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