GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Val Turgeon was camped in front of the net. She was waiting for her opportunity.
The next thing she knew, her Shattuck-St. Mary’s teammate Gracie Ostertag put a shot on goal. Turgeon was in the perfect position to redirect the puck between the goalie’s legs and into the back of the net.
The goal with just 2:36 remaining in the third period gave Shattuck its first lead in the 16U title game at the Toyota-Hockey Girls Tier I National Championships. Shattuck added an empty netter to beat the Chicago Young Americans 3-1 at the Cornerstone Ice Arena on Monday afternoon.
“Somehow I knew Gracie was going to get the puck,” said Turgeon, who is the daughter of former NHL great Pierre Turgeon. “She ends up shooting it every time, so I just kind waited in front and got the tip. It was just good timing.”
Turgeon’s goal gave Shattuck the momentum it needed.
“I think we were at 2 minutes, 30 seconds left and just that feeling of knowing you’re that close to the national championship just felt amazing,” Turgeon said. “Absolutely nothing like it.”
The national championship is Shattuck-St. Mary’s third in a row and fourth in the last six years. Two Shattuck players — Britt Mingoia and Gisele Cazaudumec — have now won three titles apiece.
Shattuck-St. Mary’s entered the national tournament as the No. 3-ranked team in 16U. The Minnesota powerhouse surrendered just six goals in the six games, and the young girls matured along the way.
“The improvement our team has made is probably what makes it feel so good, coming from what we started with to what we have now and the bond that we’ve built is so much better than what most teams have,” Shattuck captain Maddie Mills said.
Shattuck-St. Mary’s, which beat the Young Americans twice during the regular season, had a slow start to the game as Chicago’s Katelynn Rush scored at 2:05 of the first period.
“When we scored that first goal, we tried to stay even-keeled the whole time, so we didn’t want to get too emotional, and we wanted to let the fans get rowdy and let us just focus,” Chicago coach Frank Bisceglie said. “So not get too high and not get too low.”
Chicago was riding a high heading into the third after allowing Shattuck-St. Mary’s to just get 11 shots on goal in the first two periods.
During the second intermission, the Shattuck-St. Mary’s players realized time was dwindling down on their season.
“Seventeen minutes and then it’s completely over,” Turgeon said. “So we’ve just got to put it all on the ice, lay it out even if it burns, even if it hurts, even if it doesn’t feel good. You’ve just got to get it done. You’ve got to find a way. That’s my dad’s motto: ‘Find a way.’ That’s been engrained in my head.”
Shattuck-St. Mary’s certainly found a way.
The team tied it with 5:45 remaining as Natalie Buchbinder took a slap shot from the point that beat Young Americans goalie Amelia Murray with one second left on a power play.
The momentum changed, and quickly.
“That goal meant a lot to us,” said Mills, who won her second straight national title. “We’ve been a third-period team, so I think we never for a second doubted that we could come back. We knew that one goal could change the whole game, so I think that’s what really helped us.”
Turgeon then scored 3:09 later.
Murray, who finished with 21 saves, was pulled with 33 seconds remaining for an extra skater. Shattuck’s Claire Degeorge tried to clear her team’s zone by banking the puck off the boards and it traveled the length of the ice into the open net with 12.6 seconds on the clock.
Shattuck-St. Mary’s goalie Aerin Frankel stopped 26 of 27 shots she saw.
After the game, the Shattuck-St. Mary’s girls took their time getting off the ice after celebrating. Plenty of tears and hugs were exchanged and pictures were abundant.
Turgeon — with her dad, who scored 515 goals in the NHL, not too far away — reminisced about the game winner.
“Definitely the biggest goal of my career,” she said.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.