The four other hockey teams of Shattuck St.-Mary’s School had produced 18 USA Hockey youth or girls' national titles before the boys’ 16U team broke through with its first championship last year.
Now, three players — Caleb Rule, Connor McMenamin and Michael Shumacher — have the chance to play in two straight Toyota-USA Hockey Youth Tier I 16U National Championships as they lead the Sabres to San Jose, California for the tournament, held March 31-April 4.
“I’ve really been pleased and impressed with the way the three returning guys have been able to lead the way and get everybody on board and on the same page,” coach Ben Umhoefer said.
Rule and McMenamin are the leading scorers and Schumacher shares the lead for scoring by a defenseman on a team that takes a 29-9-7 record into its last two tune-ups before nationals.
“We just had our two-week spring break,” Umhoefer said. “Guys are back. We’re healthy. We’ve had three of our best practices of the year.
“Guys are excited. It’s a long time to the national tournament. We have a game this weekend. We have a game next weekend. We’re trying to play our best hockey at this time of the year.”
Shattuck-St. Mary’s was on a five-game winning streak in which it had allowed just six goals before going 0-2-3 in February while playing with some players out of the lineup with injuries.
“We’re big believers in needing 20 guys to get the job done,” Umhoefer said. “We feel like we’ve had that this year.
“We play everybody. We’re not a team that relies on six or seven guys to get the job done. We expect all 20 guys to be able to play and contribute for us.
“When we’ve had all 20 guys, we’ve really played well.”
Rule, from Lansing, Michigan, leads the team with 59 points in 45 games. McMenamin, from Collegeville, Pennsylvania, has 58 points despite missing five games.
Schumacher, from Bismarck, North Dakota, has 26 points.
The team got at least 20 points from 14 different players this year.
Shattuck-St. Mary’s will have all three Minnesota District representatives at the Tier I youth nationals again this year.
Its prep team, playing in the 18U tournament, and the bantam team, playing in the 14U tournament, were unopposed.
Umhoefer’s 16U squad played its way in back in November by shutting out Team Southeast, 4-0, in the Minnesota State Playoff.
Both the prep and bantam teams won national titles in 2014. For the prep team, it was the third title in four years and ninth title in a 16-year stretch.
A half dozen players who worked their way up from the 16U national championship squad to the prep team at the Faribault, Minnesota prep school will help the Sabres try to return to the top on the 18U level.
The prep team has won seven of its last eight games to improve to 27-10-4.
David Tomeo, a junior from Caldwell, New Jersey who had a shutout in the 2015 16U national final, has a 2.09 goals against average, a .918 save percentage and two shutouts while splitting time in goal.
Niko Karamanis leads the team with 38 assists and is tied for second with 55 points. He joins Charles Dovorany, Alex Mella, Robert Blueger and defenseman Erik Dahl as the others who have moved up from the national championship squad.
Vincent de Mey from Los Angeles is the team’s leading scorer with 32 goals and 56 total points.
The Bantam team that is headed to Anchorage, Alaska for the 14U tournament is 46-5-3. It is led by Grant Silianoff from Edina, Minnesota, who has 53 goals and 55 assists in 54 games.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.