BLAINE, Minn. -- Shattuck-St. Mary’s School 16U coach Pete Johnson talked Thursday about how you need a couple bounces to go your way in order to win a championship.
The bounces went the Sabres’ way for the fourth year in a row. They beat MN Elite Grey 2-1 in the gold medal game Monday at the Toyota-USA Hockey Girls Tier I 16U National Championships.
Being a national champion gives player Becca Foglia chills.
“I can’t really describe it,” she said. “It’s unreal.”
Shattuck-St. Mary’s holds the national title crown four times over and for the fifth in the past seven years.
“You can’t really predict winning,” Johnson said. “We’ve been so fortunate the last couple years.”
This 2016 team needed a third-period comeback in order to keep its title streak alive. MN Elite Grey held a 1-0 lead thanks to Kylie Hanley’s tally at 9:51 of the first period.
But Foglia tied it at 1-1 early in the third. Her teammate Maggie Connors passed the puck out front, Foglia said, before going through a defender.
“And it just hit me and went off the far post and in,” Foglia said. “I think it got our team really excited and just gave us what we needed to win the game.”
A couple minutes later, Natalie Buchbinder put the Sabres in front. Those two goals came against a MN Elite Grey team that hadn’t surrendered a goal throughout the tournament, outscoring opponents 18-0.
They have two goalies that split time in the games. Emma Polusny started the game, but Coco Francis took the net with 8:29 left in the second period. She came up with a few big saves right away as Shattuck-St. Mary’s buzzed around the offensive zone, forcing MN Elite Grey to ice the puck a few times.
Then the Sabres got on the board.
“We just needed to get one,” Johnson said. “The whole game changes.
“I knew if we scored once, it would definitely rattle them.”
Whether they were rattled or Shattuck-St. Mary’s just took control, it worked out for the Sabres. Goaltender Abbey Levy made 21 saves for the win.
The goals for Shattuck-St. Mary’s were obviously a huge momentum shift, plus, there was a decent-sized crowd on hand for support. If the Sabres make the championship game, the school sends up buses of students, Johnson said.
“They get so excited when they score,” he said.
Being down, tied or in one-goal games headed into the third period is nothing new for Shattuck-St. Mary’s. They’ve been in that spot all year, Johnson said.
“It happened so quick,” he said. “It happened the exact same way last year.”
They were down 1-0 to Chicago Young Americans at last year’s nationals but then came back with a couple quick goals and ended up winning 3-1.
Johnson has confidence in his team, especially his defense and goaltender, when they’re defending a lead or even if they can hold the deficit to 1-0.
Shattuck-St. Mary’s also had a strong showing defensively. They only gave up four goals the entire tournament — just a goal per game plus a couple shutouts.
It was just another solid performance for the school that’s building quite the reputation at nationals. The 19U team from Shattuck-St. Mary’s also took home gold medals.
They have some catching up to do to reach the 16U team’s four titles in a row, however.
“It’s been exactly the same all four. It’s going into the third period, you just need a goal,” Johnson said. “We’ve been very fortunate.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc