SAN JOSE, Calif. — There was plenty of significance in the Vermont Shamrocks’ 4-3 triple overtime win over the San Jose Jr. Sharks on Saturday night at the USA Hockey National Championships.
First, of course, the win that allowed Vermont to reach the Tier II 16-and-Under championship game. Second, the drama of an overtime goal, especially when it came on a 90-foot dump into the Sharks zone.
But not lost in the victory was the person who scored the goal and the day on which it happened.
The goal was scored by Cailee LaPorte. It so happens that she scored the goal on the same day her brother Nick would’ve turned 21. Seven years ago Cailee and her family lost Nick at the age of 14.
“When that puck rolled in,” Vermont coach Patrick Burke said as he was holding back some emotion, “I don’t know if Nick gets the assist or not. It was a pretty special moment for her. I know she was remembering her brother all day. It was nice to put a smile on a kid’s face on a day that’s probably difficult for the family.”
“April is a big month for us,” Cailee said on Sunday. “When we came here, it was my birthday on the second. My grandfather’s is on the third and my older brother’s was yesterday. And my father’s was today [the day Vermont beat Potsdam for the title]. So it made me that much more emotional and made me play that much harder.”
As for scoring the winning goal on Saturday night: “To be honest, it’s like a blur to me,” Cailee said. “I didn’t even know it went in until I saw everyone come towards me. I figured it out and felt the moment.”
Vancouver has the “blue men” for the Canucks games. Vermont brought their “green men,” or “leprechauns,” to cheer them on in San Jose.
The uncles of Aliza and Chelsea Ellis — Mike Carraway of North Carolina and Eric Phfeiffer of New York — donned the body suits and led the Shamrocks fans in cheers throughout the championship game. In fact, the duo had been with the team since they reached nationals.
From the pool
The top two scorers in pool play came from the Potsdam Icestorm. Ally Miller had 10 points and Katie Grant had eight. Grant was second in scoring along with Lori Berger of the East Coast (Mass.) Wizards.
No one had more goals than Grant (six), while her teammates Miller and Kristin Barkley as well as the Wizards’ Sophia Turchetta topped the assist column with five each.
San Jose’s Skylar Starbeck might have allowed that overtime goal from LaPorte, but she has nothing to be ashamed about with her play. She didn’t allow a goal in three games, covering a span of more than 101 minutes. And in that semifinal game, Starbeck had two assists, including one on Lelia Kilduff’s game-tying goal at 13:24 of the third period.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.