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On A Mission

By Summer Dutton, 04/06/24, 9:30AM MDT


Trio of Youth Olympic gold medalists looking to add a 2024 Chipotle-USA Hockey Youth Tier 1 15O National Championship with the Chicago Mission to an already memorable year.

FARGO, N.D.— Abe Barnett, Aurelio Garcia and Shaffer Gordon-Carroll are no strangers to high pressure moments within the realm of USA Hockey. The Chicago Mission trio entered 2024 battling against international opponents as part of the U.S. Youth Olympic Men’s Hockey in Gangwon, South Korea. Team USA brought home the gold medal, but that wasn’t the end of the hunt for these three chasing hockey greatness.

Now the trio is back in the United States as gold medalists ready to jump right back into another high-stakes tournament – the 2024 Chipotle-USA Hockey Youth Tier I 15O National Championship.

“Playing for your country is something special,” said Gino Cavallini, head coach of the Chicago Mission. “Being included in that group of players was very exciting for those three young men. They have a little more swagger knowing that they had all eyes on them at Youth Olympics and now they’ve come to a setting like this and they’re bringing a calm, composed demeanor to the locker room.”

Having had the experience playing at the highest youth level to start the year off, these young hockey players bring an air of calmness to the Mission team, which is 3-1 through four games at nationals so far in Fargo, North Dakota.

Barnett has tallied one goal and two assists through four games, while Garcia has scored two goals and three assists. Gordon-Carroll has two goals.

“In a group of players who all respect each other, it’s important that you have players like this in the locker room who have that kind of experience and bring a little composure,” Cavallini said.

This was ever apparent Wednesday when the team entered the third period trailing the Boston Jr. Eagles, 5-2.

The Mission battled back hard and scored three goals to tie the game.

Gordon-Carroll scored the game-tying fifth goal and said that his experience at Youth Olympics taught him to be prepared to adjust as needed on the ice.

“One thing that I took with me from the Youth Olympics was how to adapt to the different styles of play,” Gordon-Carroll said. “Every team at the international level has a different style of play and it translates to what we’re seeing here at the national championships. Every team is different and carrying that ability to adapt to different styles and compete with them is how we’re seeing success during the tournament.”

This was a valuable lesson for the young center as his adaptability gave the Mission new life when the game was tied up in the third and sparked an energy surge into the team.  The Mission had to continue to battle as they and the Jr. Eagles headed into overtime tied at 7-7.

Garcia said his experience in South Korea certainly had him prepared for overtime.

“One thing I learned playing at the Youth Olympics was the ability to handle playing in those high-pressure moments,” Garcia said. “Playing in front of a lot of people, and playing for a gold medal, that makes playing for a national championship a little easier because I know how to deal with the emotions throughout each game.”

Garcia’s ability to corral his emotions came into play big time after a scoreless overtime period against the Jr. Eagles brought the game into a shootout where the outcome was decided by none other than Garcia, notching the only goal in three-rounds.

The Mission clinched a spot in the semifinals on Saturday afternoon against Shattuck-St. Mary’s at 3:30 p.m. ET with a thrilling 5-4 victory over the New Jersey Rockets Friday. Tune into all the remaining nationals action, and watch every game live and on-demand, exclusively at

Barnett tallied an assist on Victor Plante’s game-winner just 29 seconds into overtime against New Jersey and he explained that the Mission will be prepared for a fast game.

“The pace of the Youth Olympics was very fast, and it feels the same here because we’re playing for a national championship,” Barnett said. “It’s important to keep that compete going because it’s the championships and everyone wants to play their best and take home the title.”

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