AMHERST, N.Y. — Perfection. It is a difficult trait to achieve, whether in life or sports.
The Potsdam Icestorm 16U girls did just that defensively in the USA Hockey New York District Girls Tier II Tournament in Amherst, New York.
They did not let up a single goal. Not one.
“That's a testament to our goalies and our defense,” coach Corey Towne said.
It came against the best the state had to offer. They beat Brewster 8-0, Skaneateles Lakers 6-0, Hamburg 6-0, Monroe in the semifinals 4-0 and Brewster again in the championship game, 4-0.
Twenty-eight goals scored. Zero against. Five games. Fifteen 17-minute periods equals 255 shutout minutes.
“I'm very proud of what we accomplished this season,” goaltender Jenna Christopher said. “We pulled it off as a team. [Our defense does] a great job keeping players out of my sight and clearing the puck out.”
What makes this achievement even more remarkable is the size of the community the team draws upon. Potsdam, with not even 10,000 residents, resides in St. Lawrence County in the northern reaches of New York State.
St. Lawrence is the largest county in New York — by area, certainly not by population. Approximately 120,000 people reside within the 2,822 square miles. To put that in perspective, that is almost equivalent to how many people live in just two square miles of Manhattan.
“It's tough up in the North Country,” Towne explains. “We've always had a nice, strong program with the Potsdam Icestorm. We're partnered with Norfolk. We pull from Plattsburgh, Watertown, Canton, Salmon River. We don't have enough girls in each township to sustain a program.”
Christopher, who saw most of the action in net with Ava Jullian seeing about a third of the time, comes all the way from Watertown, about a 90-minute commute one way to practices and games. That's further than if she picked one of the many teams from Syracuse.
“It was one of the closest girls’ teams around,” she said. “I heard they went to states previously years. So, I wanted to play competitive hockey, so that's where I found what I wanted to do.”
Towne said, “She's one of our best players.”
The strong defensive corps is just as capable playing two ways. Kennedy Emerson (six goals, two assists) stands out the most. She has all the attributes a hockey player needs — size, powerful skating, soft hands and the ability to make the toe of her blade dance at will.
“She's a standout. She's a dynamic player,” Towne said.
Other defenders include Phoebe Zagrobelny (three assists), Rylee Preston (three goals), and Emily Sutton.
Towne continued, “We run with two lines, so everybody has to step up.”
That includes Karley Green (six goals, five assists). The coach's daughter, Keely, had five goals and three assists. Makhia Snyder led the assists category with five. Elly Gamble had two goals and assists each.
Potsdam will take their district perfection right back to Northtown
Center in Amherst for the 2019 Chipotle-USA Hockey Girls Tier II National Championships, April 4-8.
Towne is under no illusion the shutout streak will continue.
“Obviously, we don't expect to not have any goals scored against us. That was a bonus for us,” he said. “We are going to try to be as good as we did here. Just enjoy it. A lot of girls have never experienced nationals. They are going to be ready to play.”
“I'm super excited,” Christopher said of the opportunity. “I think we'll do a great job. We have a lot of improvement still, but I think we can pull it off.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.