National championship titles have been and will always be the sought after accomplishment for any team, no matter the sport. For the SSM Girls Prep, Girls 16U, Boys 16U, and Boys Bantams hockey teams, that accomplishment became a reality on Monday as their respective teams each earned a USA Hockey National Tier 1 championship title.
The first (and second) championships were awarded to the Girls 16U and Girls Prep respectively not far from their home rink in Blaine, Minnesota. Girls 16U, though down 1-0 after the first two periods, would come back with two goals in the third from Rebecca Foggia ’17 and Natalie Buchbinder ’17 to seal their 2-1 victory against Minnesota Elite Grey, marking their fourth straight national title. “The girls worked extremely hard all season long and played very well during the tournament. The competition was tough as we were down a goal in the last five games and came back to win each one in the third period,” said Girls 16U Head Coach, Pete Johnson.
Girls Prep called for some overtime hockey after a 1-1 tie held between them and Minnesota Elite Black for the second and third periods. At 11:59 in overtime though, Abby Cleary ’16 broke that tie and unleashed the celebration for the first championship title won by the Girls Prep team since 2011. “There was something about this team that I felt was special. In competitive sports you learn that other than playing fair, there is really nothing that’s fair about the outcome sometimes. This year, however, I really felt these girls deserved to win. The fact that they did win made it a special end to a year that would have been special regardless,” stated Girls Prep Head Coach, Gordie Stafford.
The 16U Boys and the Bantams would round out the ‘Fantastic Four’, though these two teams were miles apart. In San Jose, California, with a 24-save performance from Jack Robbel ’17 and game-winning goal from Connor McMenamin ’17, the Sabres beat Victory Honda 2-1 and earned their second straight national title. “It was just an outstanding accomplishment for an incredible group of hardworking, humble kids. They flat out earned this,” said Head Coach, Ben Umhoefer ’05.
And a time zone away in Anchorage, Alaska, the Bantams clinched the final championship title with a 3-1 victory against the Boston Eagles. A quick goal from Grant Silianoff ’19 at 1:35 in the first period, paired with a power play goal and an empty-net goal helped the Bantams clinch their second title in their team’s history. “It is amazing what a group of people can do when no one cares who gets the credit,” said Head Coach Adam Nightingale.
“We’ve never had four teams win before,” Shattuck-St. Mary’s Director of Hockey Tom Ward said, “It says a lot about the school and the community working together from the teachers and the coaches to have it all come to fruition this past week. It’s really neat.”