ZLIN, CZECH REPUBLIC – In just two preliminary games, the seven Sabres involved in the IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship have already racked up three goals and three assists. Tomorrow, however, presents a different story as the seven current teammates will play each other in the Team Canada vs. Team USA preliminary game. The following article published by the IIHF takes a closer look at the seven teammates and the School that has brought them all together.
At the U18 level of women’s hockey, most of the players develop inside their own borders.
That is, most Finns are teenage girls living at home, going to school, and playing hockey in their area. The same for Swedes, and Czechs, and everyone else.
As a result, most players don’t know opponents except for international competition. But one of the few exceptions is the Canada-United States rivalry in which two Canadians, Brette Pettet and Courtney Vorster, are very familiar with several Americans because they all play hockey on the same team at Shattuck - St. Mary’s, a prep school in Faribault, Minnesota.
“I grew up playing boys’ hockey,” Pettet explained, “and when it was time to transition to girls’ hockey there weren’t many options for me locally. There aren’t a lot of teams where I’m from in Nova Scotia, but I know Sidney Crosby and his sister went to Shattuck. Taylor Crosby recommended it to me, so I visited when I was in Grade 7 and attended in Grade 8. She’s a goalie and I’ve done camps with her in Nova Scotia.”
In fact, Shattuck's alumni is an impressive list that also includes Jonathan Toews, Zach Parise, and Nathan MacKinnon.
“I was in a similar position,” Vorster, a native of Richmond, British Columbia at the other end of the country, continued. “I was transitioning from boys’ hockey, and I knew the hockey competition at home wouldn’t be quite good enough, so went to a prep school showcase down in Boston. I saw Shattuck, really liked the school, so decided to visit. I loved it.”
While it’s understandable the extent to which Sidney Crosby might go to get a decent education and develop for a year before junior, two girls deciding to leave home to pursue their dream is especially admirable.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better transition into Shattuck,” Pettet said. “I was worried about becoming homesick, but they keep you busy and you have lots of teachers and teammates who are from all over the place. Everyone is in the same boat, so they help you adjust quickly. It’s been a great experience.”
Team USA boasts no fewer than five players from the same Shattuck team: defencemen Gracie Ostertag, Natalie Buchbinder, and Allyson Simpson; and, forwards Maureen Murphy and Clair DeGeorge.
“We’ll say hi to each other, for sure" Pettet said of their rivalry during the WW18 games in Zlin. “At the end of the day, we’re teammates back in high school, but when we’re here on the ice, it’s completely different. We play for Canada, and they play for the U.S. We play for our country, so we’re not going to let friends get in the way. Off ice, we still have a good relationship, for sure.”
Vorster agreed. “We all came here to do the best that we can, so we’ll see how it turns out. Of course, we’ll be friends at the end."
For both Pettet and Vorster, the decision to attend Shattuck was to see hockey and education partnered for a long-term relationship. In both cases, that means going to a top NCAA school and hopefully developing into a senior player with the national team but to get a good education as well.
“Shattuck is in the Midwest, so there are a lot of schools that can come out and watch us,” Pettet explained. “For me, I was always interested in Wisconsin-Madison, so I’ve committed there. I’m very excited to go there, and actually a teammate of ours here, Sophie Shirley, will be going there as well, so it was nice to meet her here. Shattuck opened a lot of doors and exposed us to many college teams. I’ll go there this summer and train with the team before the season starts.
Vorster, a year younger, has similar plans for the fall of 2018. “I’m only in Grade 11 this year,” she said, “so I’m going back to Shattuck in September. After that, I’ll go to Quinnipiac. I’ve already committed to that, so I’m really excited."
In the meantime, the girls have a dream of gold to pursue, but so do their Shattuck teammates on Team USA. Bragging rights are on the line, but the friendships will endure.