At Shattuck-St. Mary’s, excellence is not an aspiration, it’s an expectation.
With 26 titles and an impressive list of NHL and Olympic stars counted among their accomplished alumni, the Faribault, Minn., prep powerhouse is always a force to be reckoned when USA Hockey National Championships roll around.
After two days of competition at the 2021 Chipotle-USA Hockey Tier I 14 & Under tournament, this year’s 14 & Under squad is certainly living up to those expectations.
One day after overwhelming Team North Dakota, 13-1, the Shattuck squad returned to the ice Thursday morning facing off against a tough St. Louis Blues team that shut out a very good N.J. Colonials team in their opening game.
The result was another impressive effort as Brodie Ziemer scored twice and Aidan Park added three assists to pace a balanced offensive attack in an 8-2 victory.
In his seventh year at the helm of the 14U team, Christian Bragnalo knows things only get more challenging from here.
“This is my sixth or seventh national championship and I know how tough it is,” the Shattuck head coach said. “That’s why we emphasize the details of the game and talk about what championship hockey really is. The games are only going to get tougher and tougher.”
For many of these players, this is their first taste of a National Championship tournament. A number of players were on last year’s squad that saw their tournament hopes dashed by COVID-19. And with limited opportunities to participate in tournaments during this season, Bragnalo’s bunch is chomping at the bit to show what they can do.
“They’ve done a wonderful job despite being cooped up all year,” Bragnalo said. “It’s almost a shame that we haven’t been in tournament situations so that people could see them play. I’m so glad this is going on now so that people will get a chance to watch them.”
For players in the program, the history and high expectations is not lost on them. They all know that NHL superstars like Zach Parise, Clayton Keller and Jordan Greenway have all worn the maroon and white. In fact, five members of the 2021 U.S. National Junior Team that won gold at World Juniors are proud Shattuck alumni. Their photos grace the hallways of the hockey office, and the championship banners and platters fill the trophy cases at the J.P. Parise Arena.
"I think the kids know [the history] and that’s part of the reason why we attract student athletes,” Bragnalo said. “They know that Nathan McKinnon went there, and Zach Parise and Connor Garland. Obviously the list goes on.
“The kids know the history and I think we do a good job of bringing both together, the history of the program and the now.”
For all that history, Shattuck has experienced a mini-drought of sorts in recent years, having not hoisted a championship banner since 2016 on the Youth side of Chipotle-USA Hockey National Championships. Bragnalo and his bunch are out to snap that streak, and based on the first couple of days of competition, the odds look pretty good that they will have an opportunity to do just that.
NJ Colonials 10, Team North Dakota 3
John McNelis and Christian Chouha each tallied four points as the Colonials found their scoring touch after being shut out by the St. Louis Blues in the tournament opener. The Colonials score four time in the first and six more in the second on their way to victory. North Dakota’s power play clicked for three goals including third period marks from Benjamin Likness and Michael Mathison.
Chicago Mission 6, Team Maryland 2
Charles Pardue scored two goals to spark a four-goal first period as Chicago Mission improved to 2-0. Luke Matthews and Justin Smith also scored in the opening frame for the Mission. Team Maryland (0-2) kept things close with goals from Matthew Frost and Blake Groton and a 31-save effort from goalie Daniel Daggett.
Buffalo Saints 5, Minuteman Flames (Mass.) 0
Aiden McKenna stopped all 21 shots he faced, and Nicholas Wellenreiter and Christian Humphreys scored two goals apiece as the Buffalo Saints ran their record to 2-0. William Shields also scored for the Saints.
LA Jr. Kings 4, Colorado Thunderbirds 1
Colin Frank scored a pair of goals, and David Ehrhard added a goal and an assist followed their shootout victory in the opener with an impressive win in regulation. Jackson Silverberg stopped 24 of 25 shots, surrendering only a third-period goal to the Thunderbirds’ Ben Rakowski.
Boston Jr. Eagles 5, Compuware 2
One night after potting a hat trick in the opener, Jack Sadowski continued to sport the hot hand adding to his tournament-leading goal streak with a pair of goals as the Jr. Eagles improved to 2-0 against a determined Compuware squad. Michael Minchello added a pair of goals and Brendan Carberry continued his rock solid ways between the pipes with a 20-save effort. Cameron Springer and Lukas Fischer found the back of the net for Compuware.
NJ Avalanche 3, NE Wisconsin Jr. Gamblers 2, SO
Marko Vucemilovich stopped all three shooters he faced and Cole Hutson, Thomas Zocco and Benjamin Wilmott scored in the shootout to lift the Avalanche to a key win.
RI Saints 3, Pittsburgh Penguins Elite 2
The Saints scored once in each period and then held off a furious charge by the Penguins Elite to escape with a win. Jackson Delleo, Tyler Wood and Patrick Fitzgibbon each scored for the Saints to back a solid performance by Ryan Harris in net. Anthony Sewecki and Ryder Dagenais tallied for the Pens.