BLAINE, Minn. – Once again, Shattuck-St. Mary’s School is the champion at the Toyota-USA Hockey Girls Tier I 16U National Championships.
So, what makes the Minnesota prep school such a strong girls’ hockey program?
“I think it starts from the top,” said coach Pete Johnson. “I think the school, administration supports hockey. It’s got a long storied history.”
After all, the school has churned out NHL stars like Zach Parise, Sidney Crosby and Jonathan Toews. Then there’s Amanda Kessel and Brianna Decker, silver medalists with the 2014 U.S. Olympic Team.
Shattuck-St. Mary’s is a good fit for girls who don’t have competitive hockey in their area, Johnson said. It’s a good environment because it’s a little bit of sports academy and prep school, rather than one or the other.
“You can come to Shattuck and you have 20 girls that like hockey, that want to pursue hockey,” he said. “Once we get the girls there, they’re really focused.”
They practice every day from 7 a.m. to 8:15 a.m. to develop the girls into strong hockey players. They play four lines, making depth an advantage.
His team includes seven middle schoolers, so their disadvantage is that they’re younger and smaller than other teams, said Johnson, who’s been with the program for five years.
That youth worked out right away at nationals this year, though.
In the opening game Thursday, Mckenna Webster had a hat trick in an 11-0 win over Washington Pride. She’s an eighth grader. Grace Lee also had a hat trick and Carmen Merlo scored two goals in that game.
A Baker’s Dozen
The East Coast Wizards had 10 different goal scorers in a 13-0 victory over the Washington Pride on Friday morning. Cayla Barnes registered a hat trick and Taylor Curtis had a pair of goals.
Barnes didn’t waste any time. She put her team up 1-0 only 28 seconds into the game. Gillis Frechette and Greta Close put 40 seconds between their goals early on as well. Barnes added a shorty for a 4-0 lead after the first period.
They struck quickly in the second, too, off Victoria Palumbo’s stick 47 seconds in. Other goal scorers for the Wizards: Olivia Lin, McCool Corinne, Bella Kang, Sydney Herrington and Gabriela Jones.
They put up six goals in the third period and had a team-total of 20 assists in the game.
The Wizards fired 68 shots on goal. Peri Donaldson made just nine saves in the shutout win.
Unfortunately for the Wizards, it was their only win at nationals. They lost 4-3 to Mid Fairfield Thursday and 1-0 to Shattuck-St. Mary’s Saturday.
One is All You Need
That was the case in the semifinal between MN Elite Grey and Boston Jr. Eagles. The only goal of the game snuck over the goal line at 2:01 of overtime for a 1-0 MN Elite Grey victory, sending them to the championship game.
Naomi Rogge was the one to put the puck past Boston goaltender Lindsay Reed, who had 25 saves in the game. Rogge saw a lane to the net, tried to pass and then tried to cut in front, she said.
“And then the rebound came back out, so I just tried to hit it again, and I guess it trickled in,” she said.
She didn’t even see it cross the line, but she quickly knew what had happened.
“I heard the whistle blew, and I saw the ref,” Rogge said. “It was just really exciting, because all of our teammates were coming.”
Coco Francis and Emma Polusny split time in net to combine for the shutout win for MN Elite Grey. Francis made 16 saves; Polusny had eight.
Elite Grey won silver medals after a championship loss to Shattuck-St. Mary’s.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.