FRISCO, Texas — Team Texas made a double comeback of sorts to win the Chipotle-USA Hockey High School Girls National Championship on Monday morning.
The team needed an early wakeup call after its first comeback on Sunday, that brought it back from a three-goal deficit in the third period. Texas had to go through an entire overtime period and a shootout to hand Premier Prep Grey its only loss in the five-day tournament.
Next up was Monday’s game, against another unbeaten opponent, Team Alaska, which already had defeated Team Texas, 2-1, on Friday. Alaska also was coming off an overtime and shootout win on Sunday.
The final score in the championship game was also 2-1, but with Texas winning this time on Kaylee Lewis’s goal with 11:21 to play.
Fittingly, the winning goal was by Lewis, who led the tournament with 11 goals. Even she had trouble describing how the puck got in the net against Alaska goalie Zoie Campbell.
“I sniped it,” she said.
“The puck came out of the corner,” was how Lewis’ coach Colin Hesse began describing the play, which then saw Genevieve Sbrocca and Sophia Pham each get a touch on the puck for an assist before it got to Lewis and past Campbell.
Texas goalie Casey Mortiz stopped 15 of 16 shots, as she watched the offense in front of her pile up 37 shots include the game-winner. That was nothing new, because Team Texas had a 41-26 advantage in shots on goal the first time the teams met, despite the early prelim loss.
“It was not our best effort,” Gross said of the first meeting with Texas. “We were fortunate enough to learn early that we had to do better. That could have been the best lesson. It gave us a lot of belief that if we played our game we could win.”
Moritz said, “We had all the confidence going in today because winning two in a row is hard. Our coach always says the second time is the hardest.”
Each team had scored early in the first period. Victoria Petruska lifted the puck into the top of the net at 3:14 for Texas, and Alaska’s Charlotte Kotlarchuk put in the rebound off a shot by Alexis Kindred at the 6:36 mark.
Sbrocca assisted on Petruska’s goal; in fact, she assisted on both Texas goals against Alaska, which allowed just six goals in five games during the tournament.
Lewis, Moritz, and Petruska all played for Team Texas when it won the High School Nationals in 2019 in Cleveland. Now seniors, they all have committed to colleges in the Northeast — Petruska at Long Island University, Lewis at Vermont, and Moritz at Endicott.
“I expect really big things from Kaylee,” Hesse said. “She can make an immediate impact. She’s the definition of a power forward. Victoria is a walking highlight reel. She has good hands. Casey when in the net has risen to the occasion.”
After coaching in the Dallas Stars development program at the 14U and 19U Tier I level, Hesse is in his first year coaching Team Texas. It draws high school players from throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.
Team Texas’ players had played before at Comerica Arena, the site of the final game. This time, they’re leaving with a championship banner.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.