SAN JOSE, Calif. — During the NHL lockout this past January, Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby rode the bus.
He sat on the bus with the Shattuck-Saint Mary’s Tier I 19-and-Under girls’ squad from Faribault, Minn. — the same team for which his sister Taylor Crosby is a goaltender, and the same prep school for which Crosby played on years ago.
Being around such a great player has had a profound affect on the girls, inspiring them to reach new heights.
“I think it gives them the sense of the aura of the program,” said coach Gordon Stafford, who son Drew plays for the Buffalo Sabres. “It gives them the sense they’re playing for something bigger than themselves.
“Team is of the ultimate importance in hockey. It shows them that these guys [like Crosby] are just normal people with the same goals and dreams that they have.”
The team has been on a tear ever since, and this week the players find themselves in prime position to reach the title game at the USA Hockey National Championships in San Jose, Calif.
Led by Baylee Wellhausen’s five goals and 10 points, Shattuck-St. Mary’s rolled through the three preliminary-round games earlier this week with three wins — outscoring opponents by a mark of 19-9 — to set up a showdown with the 2-1 Buffalo Bisons in Saturday’s quarterfinals.
“Being around that culture, it has a profound effect,” Stafford said. “We’ll potentially have six grads on the USA Olympic team. Some of them will go on to college and get opportunities there. But for many of them this will be the best competitive hockey that they’ll ever play. I think their time at Shattuck is where they learn the concept of team and the kind of things that will carry them on in their life in general.”
Taylor Crosby is among the team leaders. After playing 51 minutes throughout the first three games she had yet to let in a goal. Melissa Samoskevich, who plays both ways and has four goals and nine points so far this week, and team captain Mika Nervick, the team’s leading scorer during the season, have also played big roles.
“[Our style] is very up-tempo,” Stafford said. “We’re disciplined, and I think all our players have a team-first attitude, and it helps us in tourneys like this. It’s important that when you play against good competition you play as a team.”
The hallowed hockey program of the Episcopal boarding school in southern Minnesota has produced elite players on both the men’s and women’s side, including players such as Crosby, Minnesota Wild forward Zach Parise and Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson for the men, and 2013 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award winner Amanda Kessel on the women’ side.
With the school breeding those kinds of hockey talents regularly, it’s hard for the girls to not be motivated to reach new heights.
“I think it’s a very special place,” Stafford said. “It’s a place where kids can come and be around others who have similar aspirations and all kids have the same goals. I think unfortunately in temporary society, if you’re a person that has sort of dedicated yourself to being the best that you can, it seems like it’s harder … For them to have a place to come is great. They’re kindred spirits. It sets them up so well for college and for life.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.