The Shattuck-St. Mary’s hockey program was faced with a transition for the 2016-17 season.
When the National Hockey League’s Buffalo Sabres hired Tom Ward as an assistant coach, the Shattuck-St. Mary’s School Sabres no longer had the man who led the prep youth team to nine 18U national titles and two other appearances in the finals. Nor did they have the hockey director that oversaw a program through 21 total national youth and girls championships from 2004 to 2016.
But thanks to a highly familiar group working together, the impact of that transition has been minimized.
Ben Umhoefer moved up from coaching the school’s 16U team to a national championship and saw many familiar faces on this year’s prep team that will play in the USA Hockey Youth Tier I 18U National Championships in Pittsburgh from April 6-10.
“One thing that’s a bit unique with our group is that 17 of the 20 players I coached either last year or the year before,” said Umhoefer, who guided each of those 16U teams to national titles. “So, starting out, there was a lot of familiarity with our group, not just player-to-player, but also player-to-coach.
“Obviously, there’s a lot of positives that come along with that, but you also have to make sure it stays fresh and is still fun to come to the rink and it’s not just kind of the same-old stuff day after day.”
Shattuck-St. Mary’s, a prep school in Faribault, Minnesota, has three of the teams that will represent the Minnesota District at Tier I nationals. The 16U team will also be in Pittsburgh.
The school’s 14U team will be at the other Youth Tier I Nationals site in Scottsdale, Arizona. The Minnesota Green Giants (comprised of players from Minnesota Hockey's District 10) are the fourth team representing the district, playing in the new 15-year-old tournament, an age level at which Shattuck-St. Mary’s does not have a team.
Although Shattuck-St. Mary’s arrives at 16U and 14U tournaments as defending national champions, the prep team has fallen short of the final the last two years.
The veterans of the 16U championships will be trying to change that.
Caleb Rule, one of four 20-goal scorers, and Michael Schumacher, one of three defensemen with more than 30 points, will be trying to win their third straight national title with Umhoefer.
The team has handled the familiarity well, going 34-8-10 against the school’s usual demanding national schedule, including beating Team Northwest for the Minnesota District title 5-4 in overtime back in November.
“We have a really strong group of seniors,” Umhoefer said. “Several guys will be going on and playing NCAA Division I hockey. They’ve been at our school a long time. They’ve had a lot of experience playing in the national tournament; they’ve won a lot of national titles.
“The leadership on our team this year has been absolutely tremendous.”
Bobby Trivigno from Long Island leads the team with 29 goals. Alex Mella from Stanford, Connecticut, leads in assists (37) and points (60). Cam York from Anaheim Hills, California, is the top scoring defenseman with nine goals and 34 assists.
Jack Robbel from Bloomington, Minnesota, has three shutouts.
A total of 13 players on the team have already committed to play NCAA Division I hockey.
In the current senior class, Schumacher is headed to Clarkson, Trivigno to UMass-Amherst, Rule to Ohio State, Robbel and Niko Esposito-Selivanov to Lake Superior State and Bennett Norlin to Air Force.
Noah Prokop, a junior who has committed to Nebraska-Omaha, scored two goals, including the overtime winner in the Nov. 8 district championship game. Trivigno had three points in that come-from-behind win.
The Shattuck-St. Mary’s 16U team heads to nationals with a 37-9-4 record, having allowed just 14 goals in a 15-game unbeaten streak that began Jan. 8.
“It’s a young group that has grown as a hockey team,” said Mark Abalan, who returned to the school this year to take over as head coach. “They like to play offense and they’ve found out that, if you play defense, you can certainly transition into quick offense.
“That’s who we are as a team and kind of who I am as a coach, too. (Getting to Nationals) is a credit to them. I’ve got a talented group of players. They’re a team and they’ve bought into that side of the game together.”
Forwards Ryan Drkulec and Jack Lagerstrom and defenseman Aleko Karamanis are the only holdovers from last year’s national champions.
Grant Silianoff from Edina, Minnesota, is the team’s top scorer with 32 goals and 36 assists in 50 games.
The Sabres won the district title and clinched the Nationals berth with back-to-back shutouts in the state tournament in November.
The Shattuck-St. Mary’s 14U team is 34-13-6, including two wins in the Minnesota District playoffs in October, to earn the 14U Nationals berth.
Kiron Morioka, a goalie from Minneapolis, has six shutouts while compiling a 1.89 goals against average and .904 save percentage.
The balanced offense features four players with between 48 and 40 points.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
|Youth Tier I (14U)||Scottsdale, Arizona||Arizona Amateur Hockey||April 6-10, 2017|
|Youth Tier I (15-year-olds only)||Scottsdale, Arizona||Arizona Amateur Hockey||April 6-10, 2017|
|Youth Tier I (16U, 18U)||Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania||Pittsburgh Penguins Elite||April 6-10, 2017|
|Girls Tier I||Rochester/Macomb, Michigan||HoneyBaked Hockey Club||April 6-10, 2017|
|Women's A, B, C||Rochester/Macomb, Michigan||HoneyBaked Hockey Club||April 6-9, 2017|
|High School||Cleveland, Ohio||Cleveland Suburban Hockey||March 22-26, 2017|
|Girls Tier II||Troy, Michigan||Troy Youth Hockey Association||April 6-10, 2017|
|Youth Tier II (14U)||Coral Springs, Florida||Florida Panthers Ice Den||April 6-10, 2017|
|Youth Tier II (16U)||Frisco, Texas||Texas Amateur Hockey||April 6-10, 2017|
|Youth Tier II (18U)||Lansing, Michigan||Lansing Hockey Club||April 6-10, 2017|
|Sled||San Jose, California||Sharks Ice||April 6-9, 2017|
|Adult Rec Men's||Wesley Chapel, Florida||Florida Hospital Center Ice||April 20-23, 2017|
|Adult Rec Women's||Ellenton, Florida||Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex||April 27-30, 2017|