The Piedmont Predators 10U White team participated in the Congressional Cup Midwinter Classic hockey tournament hosted in Haymarket and Ashburn, Virginia during the Martin Luther King, Jr holiday weekend, 18-21 January, 2019. The team began the tournament with a solid 8-1 win against the Montgomery Blue Devils, spreading the scoring among 6 players, including 2 each from Eric Shelton and Spencer Musci, Soren Ruch, Peyton Ahlstrom and Vincent Schneider netted a goal apiece, and the first goal of the season for Lauren Parker.
The Predators followed with a tough fought 3-0 win over the Bedford Bears. Lauren Parker began the scoring with her second goal of the tournament halfway through the first period. Both teams were held scoreless during the second period, attributed in part to outstanding defensive zone clearing and tenacity from Christopher Trupia, not allowing the Bears to get any clean looks at goal. Locked at 1-0 through most of the third, Spencer Musci broke free from the defense and tallied a shorthanded goal, followed quickly by a textbook bing-bang-boom, stick to tape passing effort by Vincent Schneider, to a streaking Eric Shelton, to Zachary Jones in front of the net, hammering home the goal to cement the 3-0 victory.
In the third game, the Predators faced an early deficit, falling behind the Rooftop Selects 2-0 until Spencer Musci got the Preds on the board. The second period opened up with a Liam Upchurch breakout goal to even up the score at 2. This score remained deadlocked for the majority of the second period, until Rooftop puts home their third goal of the game, and they did not look back - handing the Predators their first loss of the tournament, 5-2.
Facing a ‘must win’ game, the Predators jumped out to an early 3-0 lead on the Wissahickon Warriors after the first period, including goals from Liam Upchurch, Spencer Musci, and the first goal of the season for Benjamin Engles. Spencer Musci added another goal in the second and then completed his hat trick in the third. Eric Shelton finished the scoring on a slick feed from Vincent Schneider in the corner to the top of the crease. Austin ‘Squeaks’ Stumpf faced and stopped all 20 shots to earn his second shutout of the tourney. The Predators advanced to the Championship game and another matchup with the Rooftop Selects, who went 4-0 during the Round Robin portion of the tournamnet.
Onto the Championship game. The Predators were ready for the Rooftop team that had handed them a 5-2 loss, and were prepared to enact some revenge. From the initial faceoff, you could tell something was different from the last game. The Predators opened the scoring on a goal from Peyton Ahlstrom three minutes into the game, setting the tone early. His goal was quickly followed by a brilliant top-shelf goal from Liam Upchurch on a breakaway just a minute later. The early 2-0 lead was pushed to 3-0 on a Spencer Musci goal halfway through the first period. The second period went scoreless on both sides, with some outstanding work by both goalies, and a goal-saving play by Soren Ruch, who swept away a puck sliding towards an empty net off a redirection in the crease. Two minutes into the third, Dominic Brown found the back of the net off a rebound and Liam Upchurch finished off the scoring with an empty net goal, solidifying the victory and the championship.
Piedmont Predators goalie Austin ‘Squeaks’ Stumpf played outstanding throughout the tournament, amassing a .944 save percentage and posting 3 shutouts in 5 games, including saving all 35 shots he faced in the tournament finale. Assisting the goalie were the staunch defense pairings of Brynn Murray/Peyton Ahlstrom and Soren Ruch/Liam Upchurch. They were solid all weekend, with Brynn Murray expertly holding the blue line, consistently keeping the puck in the offensive end and also clearing the puck out of the crease on the defensive end.
During the celebration on the ice, a statement from the head coach Brian Musci perfectly described this team and how they played during the championship game - “They played with a hunger, and would not be denied.”