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Girls Tier I 19U Notebook: Team USA Players Fight Off Jetlag

By Justin A. Rice - Special to, 04/07/14, 8:30AM MDT


MARLBOROUGH, Mass. -- Eighteen players participated in the 2014 Toyota-USA Hockey Tier I Girls National Championships last week just days after returning from Team USA’s silver-medal trip to the International Ice Hockey Federation Under-18 Women's World Championship in Budapest, Hungary.

While about half of those players are from Massachusetts, where the national championships were held, and many others traveled straight from Budapest to the New England Sports Center in the Boston area, two players from the Chicago area decided to go home before traveling to nationals.

Chicago Mission’s Grace Zarzecki got back from Budapest at 10:30 p.m. Monday night and flew to Boston at 7:30 a.m. the next morning.

She was home for nine hours.

“But I was sleeping for eight of those hours,” she said on Thursday. “Playing helped. Personally, I’m in a routine right now. I think with the national team they do a great job of taking care of us and letting us know what we need to do to help our bodies.”

Her teammate Sophie Skarzynski had slightly more time in Chicago because she had one less connecting flight back home.

“I’m really close with my family, and my dad and brother didn’t make the trip out and they wanted to see me so I decided to go back there and got to see them and a couple of my friends,” she said. “I think it was worth it.”

Player of the Year

Shattuck-St. Mary’s University of Wisconsin-bound star forward Baylee Wellhausen was named USA Today’s girls’ player of the year last week. The niece of two-time U.S. Olympian Cammi Granato, Wellhausen finished the national championships on Sunday with five goals and four assists.

“Well she’s very deserving of that,” Shattuck coach Gordon Stafford said. “I think she’s an example that nice people do finish first. She’s matured so much in the last four years I’ve had her. I’m going to miss her so much. She’s really developed the idea that it’s OK to be a nice person, but when the puck is dropped you gotta’ be a killer.

“And for me as her coach, she’s really kind of taught me that being nice and having an unbelievable competitive spirit can coexist.”

Her teammate Maddie Rolfes was also named to the All-USA First Team, along with Assabet Valley’s Lexie Laing.

“It’s just an honor,” said Laing, whose team beat Shattuck in the Tier I 19-and-Under championship game. “There are a lot of girls in consideration, so it’s good to be one of them. It’s very special.”

Going for 50

Assabet Valley’s victory in the 19U championship game also represented the association’s 49th championship across all age classifications.

The program, which was founded in 1971 by Carl Gray, won two other championships on Sunday. The 14U team won the first game of the day at the New England Sports Center in Marlborough, Mass. and the Tier II 14U team won in Amherst, N.Y.

“We have three shots at [winning our 50th title next year],” U19 coach Dennis Laing sad. “So we got the 14s, 16s and 19s. So hopefully we’ll be back at it and hopefully we’ll get another one.”

The Kid’s Sister

The little sister of the Pittsburg Penguins star Sidney Crosby tended the net for Shattuck-St. Mary’s in their 19U championship-game loss to Assabet Valley on Sunday. Taylor Crosby let in two power-play goals.

Leading the Way

While the Connecticut Polar Bears’ Brittany Bugalski led all goalies in the 19U division with a .971 save percentage, the Buffalo Bison’s 18-year-old forward Annika Zalewski led all 19U players in points with three goals and seven assists.

“We play a tough schedule,” Zalewski said of being battle-tested coming into nationals. “We play teams from all over.”

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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