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With Pride on the Line, Madison Capitalizes in Shootout

By Greg Bates - Special to, 04/01/14, 4:45PM MDT


FOND DU LAC, Wis. -- It was only fitting that it came down to a shootout.

The Madison Capitols and Chicago Mission 16-and-Under teams both knew they had advanced to the Toyota-USA Hockey Tier I Girls National Championships, but they faced off Sunday afternoon to determine the Central District winner and which team would receive the higher seed at nationals.

With the game squared at 2-2 in regulation and the overtime session not deciding a thing, the teams went to a shootout at the Fond du Lac Family Ice Center.

Five shooters went for each side, and both teams netted two goals. Starting the second time around for the shooters in sudden death, Capitols goalie Hannah Buchman came up with a big save. That set the stage for Capitols forward Brittyn Fleming.

Fleming skated in on the Mission’s Alexandra Rodman, put a move on the goalie and launched a forehand shot into the back of the twine for a 3-2 victory. The Capitols players quickly jumped the boards and hopped onto the ice to mob Fleming.

“It felt good,” Fleming said. “I just deked her and hoped for the best.”

Fleming’s dad Rick, who is the Capitols’ coach, figured his daughter would use her go-to shot.

“She’s got this signature move on her forehand that she’s had ever since she was yea high, and typically on breakaways [she] uses that move and goaltenders have a hard time with it,” coach Fleming said. “She comes in and looks like she’s going to go one way and she’s got really good hands. … I always tell her to stick with it if it works.”

Knowing that both teams had already punched their ticket to nationals took a little pressure on the players.

“We wanted to be the first seed, so we still worked hard,” said Fleming, who registered three goals over the weekend.

“It’s not a game you want to lose,” Mission coach Erin Rourke said, “but there’s a silver lining that we still get to go [to nationals].”

Rourke believes in the long run that seeding at nationals doesn’t make too much of a difference.

“Nationals takes a lot of hard work and a couple of lucky bounces for you to run the gauntlet,” she said.

The Capitols finished the district tournament with a 2-0 record, also beating the St. Louis Lady Blues 5-2 Friday. The Mission also beat the Lady Blues 2-0 to go 1-1 over the weekend.

A trip to nationals in Marlborough, Mass., April 2-6 will be a first for the Capitols. Coach Fleming is excited his team is playing its best hockey down the stretch.

“I don’t think anybody would have expected us early in the year to do what we did,” Fleming said. “We’re really young, and I couldn’t be prouder of these girls. It’s awesome.”

Nationals will also be a new experience for about half the Mission team members.

Chicago Squads are on a Mission

The Chicago Mission 19U team is rated No. 1 in the country for a reason: its girls are a talented bunch of players.

The Mission will head to the Toyota-USA Hockey Tier I Girls National Championships along with Team Wisconsin. The two teams didn’t play in the district tournament Sunday since they are the only teams in 19U.

“Top-ranked team in the country since the first week,” Mission coach Tony Cachey said. “It’s hard to be that team because everybody’s shooting for you, everybody’s gunning for you, and the girls have done a great job.”

The Mission is stacked with skilled players, featuring 14 NCAA Division I recruits.

“They’re skilled and most of them are lifelong Mission kids,” Cachey said. “The majority of the kids on U19 started here when they were U14s, U12s, and they worked hard to get where they’re at.”

Two of the most notable Mission players are Grace Zarzecki, a Harvard University recruit, and Sophie Skarzynski, a University of Minnesota recruit. Both girls are also members of the U.S. Women’s National Under-18 Team.

The Mission has a storied history playing in the Tier I National Championships. The team has earned a spot in the national title game the past two seasons but lost both times. The Mission players are hoping the third time is the charm.

“We’re determined,” Cachey said. “We’ll just go play.”

With the Mission 19U team advancing to nationals, that means all three Mission girls’ teams — along with 14U and 16U — will be playing in Massachusetts in two weeks. The 14U squad won its two regional games by a combined 9-1 score over the weekend, while the 16U team advanced as a wild card.

“I’ve been with the program five years now and there hasn’t been a year we haven’t sent one team at least, but to send three is a testament to Tony Cachey and what he’s done with the program and the girls who believe in the program and are willing to work for where we want to get to,” Mission 16U coach Erin Rourke said.

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

District Champions

Tier I Girls

14U: Chicago Mission

16U: Madison Capitols (champs)

16U: Chicago Mission

19U: Chicago Mission

19U: Team Wisconsin

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