BLAINE, Minn. – It doesn’t get much more pressure-packed than a penalty shot in overtime of a national title hockey game.
That scenario played out about four minutes into overtime Monday between Shattuck-St. Mary’s School and MN Elite Black at the Toyota-USA Hockey Girls Tier I 19U National Championships. Already on the power play at the time, MN Elite Black was awarded a penalty shot after it was ruled that a Shattuck-St. Mary’s player put her hand over the puck in the crease.
“Right when it was called, I couldn’t believe that that was maybe going to be the difference between a win or a loss,” said Shattuck-St. Mary’s goaltender Aerin Frankel. “I felt the pressure for sure, but I was confident in myself in stopping it.”
That she did. She stopped Natalie Snodgrass’ backhand move, and the game continued.
“I knew she was going to make a move,” Frankel said. “I just kind of poked it away.
“I was just relieved. We were definitely going to have the momentum.”
Less than two minutes later, the girls of Shattuck-St. Mary’s tossed their gloves and helmets in the air to celebrate a 2-1 overtime, title-clinching victory. It was Abby Cleary with the unassisted goal.
A MN Elite Black defender appeared to catch an edge and go down, so Cleary picked up the puck in the offensive zone and headed right for the net. She cut to the middle and put it in the far side, back door, she said.
“I don’t think there’s any way to describe it,” Cleary said. “It’s an amazing feeling.”
That overtime winner was indicative of Cleary’s game, her coach, Gordon Stafford, said, of “going hard to the net.” She jumped on the puck and went straight to the target.
“Big game like that, big moment like that … that’s a big-time goal,” Stafford said.
On arguably the biggest save of the game, the penalty shot, Frankel gave a pretty animated reaction once she made the save, which was met with loud cheers from the sizable crowd of Shattuck-St. Mary’s supporters at the rink.
Before the shot, Coach Stafford had the whiteboard in his hand and thought about calling timeout, since they still had a penalty to kill afterward. Assuming, of course, that the game would still be going.
Stafford was already thinking ahead.
“Quite honestly all I was thinking was that Aerin was going to make the save,” Stafford said. “And then we have to kill the penalty.
“That’s the kind of moment she will embrace.”
The save was “absolutely huge,” Cleary said.
“I know we were all on the bench rooting for her,” Cleary said. “You never know. That could’ve been our last couple seconds together.”
Prior to overtime, the scoring took place in the first period. Sena Hanson scored at 8:22 for MN Elite Black. Alexis Mauermann of Shattuck-St. Mary’s scored with just a couple minutes remaining in the first to even the score.
MN Elite Black had some good chances to break the 1-1 tie in the third. A shot from the point with 12 minutes remaining nearly deflected into the net, but went just wide. With under four to play in regulation, they failed to capitalize on a scramble in front of the net.
Shattuck-St. Mary’s knows what it feels like to finish in second place. They were there the past two years. Only one team can get the victory, and it was “just so gratifying to have the win,” Stafford said.
For Frankel, the feeling is “awesome.”
“I’m glad it ended this way,” Frankel said. “Sad it’s over though.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc