Back to back: SSM girls prep repeats as 19U USA Hockey national champions
Call the Sabres locked in. Call them tough. Call them clutch.
Call them champions.
The Shattuck-St. Mary’s girls prep hockey team repeated as national champions, winning the USA Hockey Nationals Girls Tier I 19U title Monday with a 3-1 win over the Chicago Mission in Rochester, Michigan.
Senior Brette Pettet had the winning and insurance goals for the Sabres, who came back from a 1-0 deficit after one period of play.
The girls prep team was the lone SSM squad still in play for a title when it took the ice Monday afternoon. The boys U16 team lost a 2-1 game earlier in the day, while the boys prep and girls U16 teams fell in the semifinals Sunday.
“We knew this morning that the boys U16 had lost, so they knew we were the last team standing,” girls prep coach Gordie Stafford said. “Our program, it is a program, regardless of gender, the teams always support one another. They play for their school, and that was important for them.”
SSM was without leading goal scorer Maureen Murphy, who had to sit out the championship after taking a game misconduct penalty in Sunday’s 1-0 semifinal win over the Mid Fairfield CT Stars. As a result, SSM rotated defensemen into the third-line center spot, ensuring that line had a definite presence all game in what Stafford called a full-team win.
A group of Sabres that’s handled pretty much everything thrown at it over the last few years steeled itself a little more knowing Murphy was out for the championship.
“I think it’s not as if you need extra incentive in a national championship game,” Stafford said. “But they’re driven people anyway, and that gave them another reason. Just this whole team, but the senior group is just so cohesive and they just love playing in those games. They played in so many of those games and I think it’s almost like once you’ve played in those games and you’ve experienced the exhilaration of those games, you’re not nervous for them, you’re excited for them. That’s how they are. Just unflappable too.”
The Mission’s Hannah Alt scored 7 minutes, 17 seconds into the first, and it was 1-0 after one. Becca Foggia scored at the 9:50 mark of the second to tie the game 1-1.
Pettet scored on a wrist shot from the right circle on a rush at the 15:51 mark to give the Sabres the lead. She added a power-play goal at 15:12 in the third from the left circle to help seal the win.
Stafford called it fitting for Pettet, who as an eighth-grader in 2013, had the tying and game-winning goals for the U16 team in the championship — a win that started a four-year streak of championships for the SSM U16 girls.
Senior goaltender Aerin Frankel stopped 24 of 25 shots faced for SSM, and she posted a shutout in the semifinal victory Sunday, making 27 saves. Murphy had the lone goal for the Sabres against Mid Fairfield, to send SSM to the championship.
Despite two relatively easy wins to start pool play, SSM (51-8-5) lost its final game of the group stage 1-0 in a shootout against Chicago Young Americans. The Sabres advanced out of the group on points to move to the semis.
“We didn’t play our best in the first game, we ran into a really hot goalie in the third game; but the last two games, the semis and the finals, we just played well,” Stafford said. “Just executed. Just everything. The effort, the determination, the focus; execution, everything.”
It was a battle-tested group of 12 seniors, and six girls won their fourth title for SSM between their years on the U16 and prep teams.
It was the seventh title for the girls prep team and the first time it won back-to-back championships since winning three straight from 2005-07.
After the program won four titles last year between the girls prep, girls and boys U16 and boys bantam squads, it was a high bar for SSM to try and replicate that feat. Despite only one Sabres team bringing back a championship to Faribault in 2017, it was still a remarkable accomplishment to have four teams make it to the semifinals, especially with the format being cut down to eliminate the quarterfinal round.
“It’s kind of bittersweet obviously with the U16 girls losing here, and the prep team losing in heartbreaking style the way they did,” Stafford said. “We were Shattuck hockey. We win as a group and we lose as a group too. But it’s nice to know that at least we were able to carry on the mantle for the program.”
SSM 3, Chicago Mission 1
SSM 0 2 1 — 3
CM 1 0 0 — 1
First period — 1, CM, Alt (Wagner), 7:17. Penalties — Ryan, SSM (interference), 4:21.
Second period — 2, SSM, Foggia (Breza), 9:50. 3, SSM, Pettet (DeGeorge, Mills), 15:51. Penalties — Alt, CM (hooking), 12:06.
Third period — 4, SSM, Pettet (Vorster), 15:12 (pp). Penalties — Wagner, CM (tripping), 14:07.
Goalies — SSM, Frankel (25 shots, 24 saves); CM, Rodman (12, 9).