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Islanders Elite 16-unders follow Connecticut Whale with a Sunday youth hockey showcase

By Rick Menning

DANBURY, CT -- Within an hour after the Connecticut Whale completed their sweep of the Minnesota Whitecaps in Premier Hockey Federation women's hockey action on Sunday afternoon, it was the Islanders Elite Program 16-under age group girls' turn to showcase their amazing talents.

Putting forth a sensational performance in all zones at the Danbury Ice Arena, the Islanders Elite youth skaters demonstrated their abilities as they and the host Hat Tricks were so excited to skate on the same ice as their Whale role models had just a short time earlier.

"It was a great opportunity for the 16-under team to have this experience," said Head Coach Alexis Moed, who is also the Whale's general manager. "The bridge we are developing between the Connecticut Whale and youth organizations is something many of us in the women's game didn't have growing up."

Islanders Elite 16-under players, from left, Bethany Vollaro, Becca Hochman, Sammy Patlin and Mareesa Viggiano are joined by the Connecticut Whale's Cailey Hutchison, Rebecca Morris and Emily Fluke prior to Sunday's pro women's and youth girls' hockey extravaganza in Danbury. (Photo credit: Connecticut Whale).

From the opening faceoff, the Islanders Elite 16s made the most of their opportunity to follow the Connecticut Whale into game competition with solid line play, maneuvering through the neutral zone and good defensive stickwork.

Ready for launch

In fact, first-line defender Sabine Vockins also proved to be stellar in the offensive zone when she went top shelf for a goal less than three minutes into the contest.

Vockins and 'D' linemate Adriann Tumminello positioned themselves just inside the blue line, and when the puck got to Vockins she lofted the one-timer.

The score was made possible as the trio of Sarah Greenholz, Mareesa Viggiano and Anna Di lorio-Reyes burst out from inside their own end and made an initial attempt from in deep. A deflection found its way out to Vockins who didn't miss.

Another pretty goal resulted from an odd-man rush, with second-line forward Samantha Patlin lighting the lamp after being set up perfectly by the passing of Sofia Lee and Courtney Reynolds.

After providing the helper on Vockins' goal, it was Tumminello's time to shine as she received the puck and launched a wrister from the point in another end result of the Islanders Elite's cycling and maneuvering in the opponent's territory.

Triple the treats

In the latter stages of the second period, Di lorio-Reyes, Reynolds and Greenholz went back-to-back-to-back with a variety of goal types including two from inside the circles and one from around the crease.

The skill set of the Elite 16s reached its peak midway through the third period when Patlin's blistering riser from the top of the right circle drew wows and the tapping of sticks against the boards from her teammates on the bench.

Viggiano also found the back of the net with a rising shot from the high slot, while Di lorio-Reyes likewise dazzled the crowd when she scored unassisted on a breakaway.

Dynamic 'D' duo

Becca Hochman was disruptive with her continual pokechecking in the 'D' zone down the stretch and fellow defender Madison Smith took charge over the blue line and across center ice with strong puck possessions following Hat Tricks' pressure on the attack.

Jacqueline McGee also demonstrated her speed and puck movement while taking off on end-to-end rushes, including one with nifty moves past two defenders midway through the second period.

Other members of the Islanders Elite 16-under team are Julia Calvi, Angelina Johnson, Rachel Leon, Laura Peck, Bethany Vollaro, Riley Wood and Jillian Storminger.

Quality gathering

Moed loved the spirit of camaraderie and positivity that both teams brought to the ice while playing in front of their families and friends.

"It's mutually beneficial to both clubs and I never thought I would be in a position to help realize such an important partnership," she said. "It's definitely something special."

A restful weekend

The Connecticut Whale are off Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 11 and 12. The PHF squad travels to Buffalo over the Dec. 18-19 weekend to take on the Beauts. Both the 7 p.m. Saturday game and 1 p.m. Sunday game that weekend can be viewed on the ESPN + network.

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