Elizabeth Parker and Kerrin Sperry have been playing hockey together almost since they took the ice for the first time.
On Sunday afternoon, both players had their hand in bringing yet another championship to the storied Assabet Valley girls’ program.
Parker’s power-play goal off a scramble in front of the net with 1:14 left in overtime made sure Sperry’s sensational 38-save effort didn’t go to waste as Assabet knocked off perennial champion Shattuck-St. Mary’s in a thrilling 1-0 title game at the USA Hockey Tier I 19 & Under National Championship.
“I couldn’t believe it went in. There was a big scramble. Everybody was just kind of fighting for the puck and I just got one last hit in, and it went in. It was like the best feeling in the world,” Parker said after the final at the Cornerstone Community Center in Green Bay, Wis. “It was like, ‘Oh my gosh, the puck just went in the net, I can’t believe it.’ It was awesome.
“It’s definitely a huge win for our program. There are no words to describe it really. It’s amazing.”
Sperry was the main reason Assabet Valley was in position to win its first Tier I 19-U championship since 2003. The Sabres outshot Assabet 35-13 in regulation but Sperry came up big time and again and held off Shattuck until Parker finally broke the deadlock.
“She is a phenomenal goalie, she always has been and we are so proud of her. She stood on her head and she’s phenomenal,” said Parker, who will play at Harvard next year.
As the Assabet players celebrated their title, the dejection was evident on the faces of the Shattuck players.
The Sabres had won four of the last five Tier I 19-U titles and did everything right except find the net once in regulation — which only happened thanks to a supreme effort by Sperry, who admitted that she was drained after the win.
“I’m exhausted,” Sperry confessed. “Going into the overtime I was thinking to myself, ‘You’ve got to really focus on the puck, because there’s going to be shots.’ Those girls are good. They’ve got a lot of good girls on their team and I just had to stay focused regardless of if I was tired.”
Even Sperry had to admit that her shutout was pretty unlikely, as was the 1-0 final score. Both teams featured high-powered offenses that scored a combined 25 goals in their quarterfinal and semifinal wins.
“Actually I was really surprised. I knew the only way I was going to be able to keep Shattuck from taking the game away from us is if they didn’t score, so I made a goal of getting a shutout,” said Sperry, who’s headed to Boston University. “I didn’t think it was going to happen honestly. I knew both our teams have great scorers and I was honestly surprised it was 1-0.”
Parker’s goal — just her second of the National tournament — ended a wild finish to an outstanding effort from both teams. Both teams had near-misses several times in the overtime period alone, including a shot by Shattuck’s Jess Brown just moments before the game-winner that appeared to be headed in, but hit the crossbar instead.
“I didn’t actually see it hit the crossbar but I heard it hit the crossbar,” Sperry said. “I saw (Brown) out in front of the net and I threw my glove up there hoping maybe it would catch an angle. Luckily the hockey gods were with me today.”
Moments later, Parker put home the game-winner and Sperry said the feeling was amazing.
“I was so happy, I was so relieved. I’ve played with Elizabeth since I was 8 years old,” Sperry said. “We go way back and I was very proud of her.”
Story courtesy of Red Line Editorial, Inc.
Tag(s): 19 & Under