The Minnesota Green Giants displayed a defensive showcase to top the Chicago Mission, 2-1, taking the 2022 Chipotle-USA Hockey Tier I Girls 14U National Championship. It marked the second consecutive year the Mission and Green Giants faced off in the age group title game.
“It’s amazing,” Minnesota Green Giants head coach Al Blomker said. “This team has worked so hard from last fall until now. We lost our longtime team manager and a lot of these girls knew him from the last few years. Today was for him, he was with us today.”
Minnesota played the entire tournament in honor of their late team manager, Jason Waldowski, who unexpectedly passed away last June. The team carried a shirt of his on the bench with them, providing inspiration in difficult moments.
“He was the biggest Green Giant fan and supporter ever,” Blomker said. “He loved the national tournament and he just loved every second of it. He truly cared for this team and these kids. He’s dearly missed.”
The Green Giants opened the game with the first six shots on goal and the teams traded opportunities on both ends of the ice. Minnesota cracked the scoresheet first, after Amelia McQuay took a feed from Maya Engler behind the net, putting a point-blank shot past the Mission’s Heather Wolff.
The Green Giants doubled its lead after Engler took a Hannah Christenson pass from the side of the net, putting it short side to give Minnesota a 2-0 lead at 8:00 in the second.
“[My teammates] work together really well. We pass the puck and always find each other on the ice,” forward Engler said. “Seeing each other on the ice is a big part of scoring goals and the success of our team.”
A few key saves by Green Giants goalie Lauren Lafferty on a late second period power play kept the game at 2-0 heading into the final period.
Minnesota kept the Mission on their heels in the third, killing three penalties in the period as well. With a little over a minute left in the game, the Mission’s Iris Chen put one past Minnesota after a scramble in front of the net. Mission had pulled its netminder while on the penalty kill. However, despite the late surge, Mission was unable to force overtime.
Lafferty recorded the 22-save performance in the winning effort. The Green Giants outshot the Mission, 31-22, in the victory.