Shattuck-St. Mary’s School won all three Minnesota District Youth divisions in which it has teams, but the private boarding school will arrive at the Chipotle-USA Hockey National Championships in April in different situations than usual.
For the first time in four years and the second time in seven years, the school does not have a national title to defend. And, the Prep team, its highest-level squad and the one responsible for nine national championships in the last 19 years, heads to the 18U tournament after a tougher season than usual.
“We want to be known as a place that develops players within the idea that it’s a team sport,” Shattuck-St. Mary’s Prep team coach Ben Umhoefer said. “We feel if you do that right, you’ll have a good chance to compete at the end of the year. For as long as I’ve been around the program as a player and a coach, the talk has never been about national championships.
“We rarely talk about it. It’s about trying to grow as a team and play our best hockey at the end of the year.”
That may be the case as the 28-16-4 Prep team arrives in Philadelphia in better health than it has been through much of its schedule.
“The makeup of our team has changed a little as we’ve gone through the year,” said Umhoefer, who also dealt with absences for the flu. “We’ve battled the injury bug. … We’ve had to scramble some and play guys at different positions.
“There’s been a lot of juggling, moreso than I’ve had with teams in the past.”
The Sabres are 7-2-2 since late January.
“We’ve played significantly better than what our [overall] record goes,” Umhoefer said. “Playing short has definitely impacted a few of our results.
“We let some games slip away, just because we were short players.”
Accordingly, the Sabres won’t rule out being back in title contention.
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14U: Shattuck St. Mary's
15-Only: Blue Ox
16U: Shattuck St. Mary's
18U: Shattuck St. Mary's
18U: Moose 18U
14U: Green Giants
16U: Shattuck St. Mary's
19U: Shattuck St. Mary's
While Umhoefer said the lack of a national title in 2017 does not hang over the program — “it’s not like our hashtag,” he said — the coach acknowledges that the memory of last year’s overtime loss in the 18U national semifinal sticks with him.
The 16U team made it a step further, falling in the championship game.
All three teams secured their return to nationals during the USA Hockey Minnesota District Tournament, which is held in October and early November so that players from other Tier I and Tier II programs can compete with their local high school and youth teams during the winter.
The Shattuck-St. Mary’s Prep team earned its national berth with a 4-3 overtime victory over the Elite League Southwest in the district championship game.
Grant Silianoff, a junior from Edina, Minnesota, leads the team in goals with 26 and points with 51 in 45 games.
Shattuck-St. Mary’s won the district’s Tier I title 16U with an 8-2 victory over the Green Giants to earn its trip to Philadelphia.
Kiron Morioka, a freshman goalie from Minneapolis, has five shutouts.
The Shattuck-St. Mary’s 14U team (26-20-3) won a four-team playoff for the Minnesota Tier I 14U title with a 7-1 win over the Green Giants in the semifinals and a 6-4 victory over Walleye in the final. It will play in nationals at Charlotte, North Carolina.
Walleye led, 4-3, going into the third period of the final. Connor Mahony scored his second goal to tie the game and Conner Schneider provided the winner on a breakaway with 1:37 left.
Liam Gilmartin, a 6-foot freshman from Falls Church, Virginia, is second on the team with 37 goals and third in assists with 34.
Also winning Minnesota District titles and the Youth nationals berths that went with them were the Blue Ox Tier I 15-Only team (representing Northern Minnesota) and the Moose 18U Tier II team.
The Blue Ox qualified with consecutive 4-3 overtime wins in the semifinals and final and are headed to Plymouth, Michigan. Duluthian Finn Hoops scored the title-winning goal seconds after the team killed off a penalty in overtime. Goaltender Carter Clafton (Grand Rapids, Minnesota) made 19 saves in the finale.
The Moose won the Minnesota High Performance League playoffs, which doubled as the district tournament with a trip to Green Bay, Wisconsin, at stake.
Eagan (Minnesota) High School standout Nick Sherek scored the first and last goals of a 4-2 win over the Green Giants in the final.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.