PLYMOUTH, M.I. - The 15O North Jersey Avalanche played their first game at USA Hockey Nationals in Plymouth, Michigan on Wednesday. Coming into the tournament with a strong season, the Avalanche finished their regular season play in the AYHL with a 23-0 record.
In the first game of the Olympic round robin set, the Avalanche faced off against Chicago Mission. The Mission started the scoring in the first period, just under six minutes into the game. Marko Vucemilovich made a valiant effort in the crease, but the Mission’s puck movement created too much chaos to block a shot from Eero Butella, assided by Luke Matthews.
Later in the period, with Mission still in the lead, 1-0, the Avalanche's Julian Brown got charged with a two-minute penalty for roughing. The Avalanche penalty kill team stood strong for the first minute, but with forty seconds to go Mission’s Charles Arend sniped it past Vucemilovich to extend the Mission lead to two.
Moving into the second period, the Mission gave North Jersey a couple of power play chances. Unfortunately, the Avalanche were unable to capitalize on the opportunities. The Avalanche remained strong throughout the second period, showcasing their defensive talents. As they headed to the intermission, Mission maintained its 2-0 lead.
Returning for the final period, the Avalanche struggled to maintain puck possession as they worked to increase the intensity. Mission’s goalkeeper stayed strong, keeping away any chances the Avalanche offense had of getting on the board. A little over ten minutes into the third period, Jake Merens took a nice cross-ice pass from Charles Pardue to further pad the Mission's lead to 3-0.
Five minutes later, the Mission squeaked one final goal past the defense and Vucemilovich. The game ended 4-0 in favor of the Mission, earning them three points in round robin play.