WEST CHESTER, Pa. – It was a day to remember for the Gorbatenko sisters at the Chipotle-USA Hockey National Championships. After younger sisters Rachel Gorbatenko and Nicole Gorbatenko combined on the overtime winner for the Chicago Mission in the Girls Tier I 14U title game, older sister Kelly Gorbatenko recorded a hat trick to give the 19U team a 4-1 victory over RYA at Selects Academy.
“It’s very cool [to see them combine for the goal]. I train with them a lot, and it’s good to see their hard work pay off,” said Kelly. “It’s a five-man unit out there. It’s a full team effort, so I give a lot of credit to my teammates because they really helped me out there. My goals are on the scoresheet, but it was a team effort.”
Both goaltenders and teams played an impressive defensive match, avoiding any major turnovers and leaving the majority of action for the final frame. Less than two minutes into the third period, the Mission went in on a two-on-two where Kelly was able to get her first goal. She brought the puck from blue line to blue line, and then made one move a few strides into the offensive zone and fired a shot through a screen that found the back of the net.
Midway through the frame, RYA tied the game. A turnover allowed the Selects Academy to go in on a 3-on-2. Ella Ridge received a pass right inside the blue line, took one stride and let go of a wrist shot the went top glove over Paige Taborski and caused the RYA faithful to erupt in cheers. That would be the only goal that Taborski would let in, as she stood tall the rest of the way.
The Mission would retake the lead shortly after. A good forecheck from Callista Chong helped her steal the puck. Chong made her way to the slot where she let go of a shot. The save was made by Emily Finach, but Veronica Bac came screaming in and pounded home the rebound before superman diving in celebration.
Gorbatenko would get her second goal late in the third period, as she came from behind the net and fired a turnaround shot through the legs of Finach. Gorbatenko would complete the hat trick with an empty-net goal.
“It told Kelly before the game that it very well could be a Gorbatenko sister day,” said head coach Erin Rourke. “Kelly looked at me and said ‘I sure hope so.’ I’m pretty sure it is.”
As the sticks and gloves went flying into the air, Rourke smiled and looked toward the ceiling at the Ice Line Arena. It was a successful weekend for the Mission program, winning two of the three Girls Tier I National Championships and having the 16U squad make it to the semifinals.
“I’m over the moon for this team, they deserve it,” said Rourke. “This is unbelievable for us as a program. We’re built on a sisterhood, we call it the ‘Mission Way.’ The teams cheer each other on all the time, it’s not just here. Kudos to the kids, it’s unreal.”