Appearing in the 18U Tier-I Tournament for the fourth time in six seasons, the Selects Academy at South Kent School finally claimed the top spot, defeating Cape Cod 5-2 in Tuesday’s national championship game.
After finishing the regular season ranked No. 2 in the country with an overall record of 43-10-1, the Selects went 2-0-1 in pool play at USA Hockey Nationals in Philadelphia, advancing to the eight-team, single-elimination tournament that began on Sunday.
In the quarterfinal, Jake Veilleux scored in overtime to defeat the Yale Bulldogs 2-1 and advanced to the final four. Head coach Matt Plante’s squad faced a major challenge in the semifinal in Eastern Massachusetts, a team that led the tournament in scoring with 20 goals in its previous four games. The Selects combated a strong offensive opponent with an impressive performance of its own, rattling off five unanswered goals to begin the game. They would go on to defeat Eastern Massachusetts 7-2, punching their ticket to the championship.
There, they faced a familiar foe in Cape Cod, a team that had beaten the Selects Academy 3-1 in late September.
Zach Schrock gave Selects a 3-2 midway through the third period, but a string of penalties would make maintaining that lead a tremendous challenge down the stretch. With under two minutes left in regulation and the Selects on the penalty kill, Cape Cod pulled its goalie to skate 6-on-4 looking to tie the game in the waning moments. Shane Pinto and Veilleux would chip in two empty-net goals in the final 90 seconds of regulation, putting the game on ice for the Selects Academy and the 5-2 win. It capped off a four-point day for Pinto, who led the team in scoring for the tournament with five goals and nine points.
Established in 2011, the relationship between South Kent School and the Selects Academy offers the best of both worlds, allowing the students to have both a top-tier private boarding school education while also playing the highest level and most competitive triple-A hockey available in the northeastern United States. Their run to Tier-I USA Hockey Nationals is their fourth appearance in the past five seasons and their first national championship in its seven-year partnership.
With a 15U, 16U and 18U program at South Kent -- all three of which qualified for the USA Hockey national tournament -- the Boys’ Selects Academy has become a nationally-known brand that attracts some of the best players in the country. Find out more about our Selects Academy located in Connecticut HERE!