Matt Shott worked diligently on the growth and development of Girls hockey in Arizona.
That growth is on display 3 months after his death from cancer at age 34.
The Arizona Kachinas, the state’s only girls’ program, not only sent teams to the Chipotle-USA Hockey Youth Girls Tier II National Championships in West Chester, Pa. on all three age levels, but they also advanced all three into bracket competition by having each post 2-1 records in pool play.
Along with being the senior director of hockey development for the National Hockey League’s Arizona Coyotes, Shott was serving as the Kachinas hockey director and head coach of the 14U team at the time of his death.
Jeremy Goltz, the head coach of the Kachinas 19U team, said Shott’s death was traumatic for everybody in the program. All three teams have a Shott jersey on their bench as they participate in Nationals in Pennsylvania.
“He’s been the driving angel behind all this success,” Goltz said. “That’s the biggest part of our story. Everybody is playing for him.”
Shott and Lyndsey Fry, a former U.S. Women’s National Team hockey player who became the first Arizona native to medal in the Winter Olympics, joined others through the building of the Kachinas program while working for the Coyotes. Fry is the Coyotes’ director of external engagement, youth & women’s hockey and president of the Kachinas organization where she leads in the development of young girls beginning in the game.
The program has grown rapidly and when four girls made the switch from a 16U Youth team this year to join in, the Kachinas had the team that is now in the national quarterfinals in the 19U 1A Division. The Kachinas 16U and 14U teams made the quarterfinals in the 2A Division.
They supported each other through sad times earlier in the season and now, they support each other on the road, helping create a festive atmosphere Saturday when the 19U team advanced by beating the Philadelphia Little Flyers, 3-1.
“It’s a pretty small, tight-knit organization and kind of family, so everybody knows everybody,” Goltz said. “Every game there’s support and madness in the stands, so that’s been fun.”
Jenna Majewski is the only player in the 19U 1A tournament with both four goals and six points during pool play, tying for the lead in both categories. She scored a hat trick while Alyssa Ihling and Aidyn DiGrazia scored two goals each when the Kachinas beat the Ramapo Saints (New Jersey), 8-1, Friday to shake off losing Thursday’s opener, 2-1, to the San Diego Angels on a goal with 1:13 left.
Kachina's Davy Mokelke during pool play at the Girls Tier II 16U 2A National Championship.
The 6-foot-2-inch Majewski is one of the players that came over from Youth hockey, along with Payton Goltz, defender and assistant captain Caitlin Bailey and goalie Sophia Villanueva.
“Jenna is very strong,” coach Goltz said. “She has a great shot, great nose for the net and just had a fantastic year.”
Majewski runs the team’s power play and has gotten two of her goals there.
“She’s really putting together a nice tournament, leading the tournament in scoring,” Goltz said. “That’s pretty normal for her. She’s a pretty dominant player.”
Majewski was the runaway scoring leader in Tier II this season with 24 goals and 23 assists in 16 games, 15 of them wins by Arizona. The Kachinas have the advantage of combining both a dominant player with scoring depth.
“We’re really a deep team,” Goltz said. “Our year has been such a success because I’ve managed to run four lines, six D. We have a heavy bench and I use them all.
“I don’t overcoach them. Some of them are big. Some of them are skilled. Everybody’s got a nice little piece of the puzzle.”
All four lines produced goals against Ramapo. The Kachinas then carried a shutout deep into the third period of the win over Philadelphia. Payton Goltz scored a goal and had two assists in the win. That gives her four assists, tied for the tournament lead.
The four additions from the boys’ side with players who had been developing in the first two years of the girls’ program have meshed into one unit.
“Everything kind of came together like a perfect storm this year,” coach Goltz said.
The 19U team is tied for the 1A tournament lead in team scoring. DiGrazia, with three goals and three assists, is one of two players in the tournament to match Majewski’s six points.
The 16U team opened its tournament with a pair of one-goal victories, putting itself into advancement position Friday when Bailey Cote tied the game with 6:14 left and Keeley Callander scored the winner with 1:12 left in a 2-1 victory over the Casco Bay Mariners (Maine).
Arizona’s 14U team has allowed only six goals in four games, splitting a pair of shootout games and suffering its only loss, 3-2, Friday to the East Coast Wizards (Massachusetts), the only 3-0 team in the 12-team field.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.