If the rich get richer, then Shattuck-St. Mary’s hit the jackpot once Cole Eiserman decided to leave his Newburyport, Mass. home and play this season in Faribault, Minn.
Considered one of the top 14-year-old players in the country, Eiserman dominated the Tier I 14 & Under competition at the 2021 Chipotle-USA Hockey National Championships, saving his best for last as he scored five goals to propel Shattuck past the Buffalo Saints, 7-2, to claim to its first boys national title in five years.
The line of Eiserman, Brodie Ziemer and Macklin Celebrini was unstoppable all tournament, and today was more of the same as Shattuck erupted for five goals in the third period to break open a tie game. As he has all season, Eiserman set the pace scoring three times in the final frame to break open a tie game.
“It was the best group of boys that have ever been with me,” said Eiserman, who had 122 points during the season. “It was easy the whole way because we all love each other. We battled hard all year and we got what we wanted.”
Shattuck lived up to its billing as the top seed in the tournament, having not lost a game since Sept. 25 on the way to compiling a 45-1-2 season record. It helps to have the top line in the country and a potent power play that scored at an incredible 47 percent clip (10 for 21) with the man advantage in the tournament.
It didn’t take the power play to get on track as Eiserman picked up a loose puck off the faceoff and beat Buffalo goalie Aidan McKenna clean the glove side.
Despite finding themselves in an early hole, the Saints continued to pressure Shattuck on the forecheck, which resulted in Christian Humphreys potting the equalizer.
Shattuck needed only 17 seconds into the second period to retake the lead as Eiserman took a pass from Ziemer and breezed past a Buffalo defender and tucked a backhander past McKenna.
“He’s a beast,” Shattuck head coach Christian Bragnalo said of his big winger. “He’s a big, strong kid that loves to play the game. Sometimes we have to keep his emotions in check, but he wanted a win in the worst way and he played fabulous.”
Still, the Saints responded just before the break as Michael Sandruck took a long clearing pass off the boards from Humphreys and beat William Lubimov to the glove side.
That was as close as things would get as Eiserman put his team’s championship hopes on his back and he almost single-handedly carried them over the finish line.
“I thought we weren’t skating that well for the first two [periods] and they played us hard,” Bragnalo said. “I thought in the third period, we just came out really strong and quick. And after the first shift, after we killed off the penalty, I just liked kind of our mojo and the way we were skating. And that’s what ultimately took us to the win.”
For the Saints, it’s been a year of discovery that started in August and the team continued to improve as it hit certain benchmarks they set for themselves along the way. Their first goal was to make it to the New York District playoffs, which they won to punch their ticket to Nationals. Once they arrived in Dallas, they took it one game at a time and beat some very talented teams before running into a juggernaut in this super-talented Shattuck team.
“That Shattuck team is the most cerebral offensive youth hockey team I have ever seen,” said Saints head coach Robert Murden. “We knew that we had to keep it tight and I feel like we did that. We did our best to weather the storm but they deserve to be the champions. They are the best team in the country.”