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Shattuck-St. Mary’s Wins Youth Tier I 18U National Championship

By Justin Felisko, 04/07/24, 5:00PM MDT


Shattuck-St. Mary’s rallies for second consecutive national title at Chipotle-USA Hockey National Championship.

LAS VEGAS – Kaeden Hawkins had his Chipotle-USA Hockey National Championship medal wrapped around his neck on Sunday afternoon when he thought back to one of the first practices Shattuck-St. Mary’s (MN) had back in September.

Hawkins was one of eight players from last year’s Shattuck team that won a 2023 Chipotle-USA Hockey National Championship who decided to return to Shattuck to defend their title.

The forward knew it was not going to be easy, but he saw a committed group of players on the ice in the fall.

“All the guys coming back, we were ready to go for another one,” Hawkins said, “It was full of excitement. First practice was full of energy, and I knew this group was special from the get-go.”

It certainly was a challenge, but Shattuck-St. Mary’s posted back-to-back, come-from-behind victories to win the 2024 Chipotle-USA Hockey National Championship at City National Arena.

Shattuck-St. Mary’s overcame an early 1-0 deficit to defeat the Yale Jr. Bulldogs (CT) 2-1 in the championship game Sunday afternoon less than 24 hours after overcoming a 4-1 deficit against the Long Island goals in the semifinals.  

The Bulldogs took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission after Blake Jones connected on a shot from the point with 12:08 to go in the first period.

However, Michael Berchild crashed the net hard and snuck the puck past Bulldogs goalie Mitchell McCusker to tie the game at 1-1 with 9:56 remaining in the second period before Drew Waterfield put Shattuck-St. Mary’s up 2-1 with 5:34 to go in the period.

Shattuck-St. Mary’s and goalie Jack Hirshorn then beared down in the third period to cement the team’s second consecutive national title.

“To pull it off at the end is not easy, especially to win it twice in a row It is super hard,” said Shattuck-St. Mary’s head coach Tom Ward. “I have been around this long enough. It is not because you are the most talented team. You need luck. You need everything to go right. It is not an easy thing to do. We had different guys show up and were heroes every game in the tournament. That happened again today.

“A goal for our team is to bring home a banner to our school and hand it to the headmaster every year. We would like to wallpaper the inside of our rink with these banners. That is what the kids try to do. They love it.”

Hirshorn stopped 22 of 23 shots he faced from the Bulldogs after turning away all nine shots he saw in Shattuck-St. Mary’s 5-4 victory overtime victory in the semifinals against the Long Island Gulls.

In that game, Shattuck trailed 4-1 before scoring four unanswered goals. William Zellers had four of Shattuck’s five goals, including the overtime winner.

“I am very proud of them,” Ward said. “They have had resiliency all year long. It’s a long year for our guys. We start Labor Day weekend and end this weekend. Skate pretty much every day. They lift, eat, train, go to school and fight with each other.  They are like brothers.”

Ward commended Hirshorn for helping Shattuck finish their goal of winning a second title after he entered the semifinals game against Long Island less than 24 hours earlier in the second period.

All year long Shattuck-St. Mary’s has been able to rely on their goaltender platoon of Hirshorn and Jackson Silverberg.

“Our goaltender played good, and we got to roll our lines for most of the game, which helped us from last night,” Ward said. “We needed a whole bunch of guys to help and they all played well. I couldn’t be more proud of them. I thought they played well. We have been super lucky the last four years to have a tandem of goalies to come in and play for two years. Both of our goalies have played well all year round.”

Defenseman Colin Ralph explained the core of returners knew once they committed to this season that the goal was to do everything possible to win a second national championship.

“Not everybody was planning on coming back originally, but it was a domino effect,” Ralph said. “We knew how good our team was going to be and we only had one goal on our mind. Obviously, everything else this season was important, but we played eight months for this.

“We didn’t win this championship today. We won it over the entire school year.”

There was never any panic from Shattuck-St. Mary’s throughout the tournament. Instead, they relied on their previous experience at nationals and trusted that the work they put in all year long would indeed pay off.

“This is incredible,” Ralph concluded. “We have an unbelievable team. We have guys who wake up next to each other every single day. This means the world to us, especially the eight of us that were here last year and made the choice to come back.

“We did it again and no one will ever take that away from us.”

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