The Shattuck-St. Mary’s girls’ hockey team has gone through some uncharacteristic struggles this season.
The team from the Faribault, Minn. private boarding prep school is playing its best hockey of the season, however, as it prepares to head to the USA Hockey National Championships, where it will look for its sixth title (and seventh championship game appearance) in the last nine seasons on the 19-and-Under Tier I level.
“We’re getting better,” coach Gordie Stafford said. “Kids are starting to accept their roles on the team more. I think our scorers are starting to score and we’re getting more continuity with our defense.
“We know who we are. We know what we need to do to win, and that’s a good thing going into nationals.”
A year ago, Shattuck-St. Mary’s arrived in at nationals in Marlboro, Mass. with just six losses on the season.
The team will head to San Jose, Calif. for the April 3-7 national tournament with a 26-21-3 record. That record includes going 8-1 over the last nine games to overcome what had been a losing record.
The most recent action came at the end of February when Shattuck-St. Mary’s swept the Minnesota Thoroughbreds 6-2 and 3-1 in a best-of-three series to determine the Minnesota District representative in the national 19-U Tier I division.
“We had a tougher year,” Stafford said. “We had a lot of injuries this year. We didn’t have the scoring that we’ve had in the past.
“We lost a lot of low-scoring games, but in the end, I think it’s made us a better team. We’re used to adversity. We’re used to playing from behind.”
After the recent stretch, Shattuck-St. Mary’s is trying to turn that into a positive.
“We’re battle-tested,” Stafford said.
For some, those tests have come on higher levels.
Scoring leader Baylee Wellhausen and defenseman Maddie Rolfes played for the U.S. team that outscored opponents 36-1 in regulation before losing the championship game to Canada in overtime to settle for the silver medal at the U-18 Women’s World Championships.
Wellhausen, a junior from Williams Bay, Wis., has 33 goals and 18 assists in 49 games to make the transition from leading the school’s 16-U team in scoring last season. Rolfes, a junior from West Des Moines, Iowa, has eight goals and 12 assists in 41 games.
Rolfes and Heather Mottau, a senior from Milton, Mass. who has also played some at forward, lead the defensive unit. Mottau has 14 goals and 13 assists.
Stafford said the team’s improvement has coincided with a move of Melissa Samoskevich, the team’s only sophomore, from defense to forward. Samoskevich, from Sandy Hook, Conn., is the team’s fourth-leading scorer with 17 goals and 19 assists.
Morgan McKim, a junior from Mars, Pa., and Mika Nervick, a senior from Lakeville, Minn. are tied for second on the squad with 38 points each. Nervick’s total includes a team-high 31 assists.
Shattuck-St. Mary’s also will represent the Minnesota District at nationals in the 16-U division. With most of the Minnesota action confined to high school hockey, Shattuck-St. Mary’s, which as a prep school competes as an independent, was unopposed for the district berth on the 16-U level.
The 16-U team is 36-13-4 heading into its final weekend of regular-season play, including two straight shutouts on the way to a third-place finish in a tournament in Detroit. The team has 15 shutouts overall and has held 15 other opponents to a single goal.
Emma Turbyville, a junior from Chicago, and Patricia Marshall, a freshman from Thief River Falls, Minn., lead the defense.
“They’re a very deep team,” Stafford said of the squad, which is coached by Peter Johnson. “They are at least three lines deep, they have six solid D and excellent goaltending.”
Emmanuelle Cooper, a freshman from Bloomfield Hills, Mich., has seven shutouts while Megan Dubois, a sophomore from Hudson, Wis., has six.
Audrey Warner, a sophomore from Shaker Heights, Ohio, leads the team in goals (28), assists (28) and points (56).
The rest of the scoring is balanced. Hannah England has 40 points, Brooke Boquist has 35 and Broke Ahbe, Katherine Hughes, Alexis Mauermann, Taylor Schwabe, Ryan Little and Marshall all have at least 20.
“Both teams are in a good spot in playing our best hockey going into nationals,” Stafford said. “I think that this is one of the first years that we're maybe coming in as a bit of an underdog, although with our reputation, we tend to have a bit of a target on us.”
Stafford points to Chicago Mission, which is 6-1-1 against his 19-U team, and the New England and Massachusetts representatives as potential favorites.
“What I love about the tournament is if you get to Saturday, when you have the quarterfinals and semifinals in the same day, anything can happen,” Stafford said.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
Girls Tier I
16-U: Shattuck-St. Mary’s
19-U: Shattuck-St. Mary’s
Boys Tier I
14-U: Shattuck-St. Mary's
16-U: Shattuck-St. Mary's
19-U: Shattuck-St. Mary's