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The Shoreline Sharks U-16 Black team took home the USA Girls’ Ice Hockey 2018 Tier II national title with a 1-0 win over the Vermont Shamrocks in Marlborough, Massachusetts on April 9. Pictured from the squad are (front) Carina Mancini (Middlefield), Gillian Maher (Pearl River, New York), Juliana Constantinople (East Haven), Ciara Halloran (Madison), Kate Hagness (Guilford), Meagan Spring (North Haven), coach Karlyn Donovan (Hamden), Lilly D’Ancicco (Madison), and Tatum Courtmanche (Madison); along with (back) Lauren Mullally (New Haven), Cally Dixon (Woodbridge), Jessica Pitaniello (Fairfield), coach Ed Rodham (Madison), Melissa Montesi (North Haven), Emily Bouvier (Shelton), Taylor Nowak (West Haven), Meaghan Hogan (Cheshire), and coach Rachel Farrel (Cheshire). (Photo courtesy of the Shoreline Sharks )
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The Shoreline Sharks U-16 Black (AA) team won the USA Girls’ Ice Hockey 2018 Tier II National Championship title by defeating the Vermont Shamrocks 1-0 in the final at the New England Sports Center in Marlborough, Massachusetts on April 9. The Sharks went undefeated in national play, defeating teams from New York, New Jersey, South Dakota, Michigan, Alaska, and Vermont, while outscoring the competition 21-3.
The team’s win against the Shamrocks in the championship game was especially sweet as it avenged the Sharks’ 4-2 loss to the Shamrocks in regional play a few weeks earlier—marking their only loss of their entire 2018 tournament run that included states, regionals, and nationals. The Sharks’ strategy of controlling the game with aggressive forechecking, sound defensive hockey, and quick transitions from defense to offense paid off. The game was tense and scoreless until the Sharks scored with eight minutes left in the third period to emerge with the 1-0 win.
The athletes who led the Sharks to their national title include East Haven’s Juliana Constantinople, Madison residents Tatum Courtmanche, Lily D’Ancicco, and Ciara Halloran, Guilford’s Kate Hagness, and North Haven residents Melissa Montesi and Meagan Spring. The team’s other athletes are Emily Bouvier (Shelton), Cally Dixon (Woodbridge), Meaghan Hogan (Cheshire), Gillian Maher (Pearl River, New York), Carina Mancini (Middlefield), Lauren Mullally (New Haven), Taylor Nowak (West Haven), and Jessica Pitaniello (Fairfield). The Sharks are coached by Madison’s Ed Rodham, along with Karlyn Donovan of Hamden and Rachel Farrel from Cheshire.
“This team never quits or backs down from a challenge. Losing to the Shamrocks in the regional finals served as major motivation for this highly competitive group of girls. The players worked extremely hard to prepare, practicing almost daily prior to the tournament,” said Coach Rodham. “Our strength in goaltending, strong defense, and an offense that capitalizes on opponent mistakes served us well. The girls were focused and executed our game plan flawlessly, and it paid off with the championship title.”
This is the second year in a row that a Shoreline Sharks’ team has earned a USA Hockey National Championship title. In 2017, nine members from this year’s U-16 team help the Sharks clinch that same title in the U-14 Division, ultimately compiling an impressive two-year record of 25-1-4 in state, regional, and national tournament play to go with a mark of 12-0 in national play. The 2017 and 2018 Shoreline Sharks are the 15th and a 16th teams from Connecticut to win a national title since the USA Hockey Girls’ National Championship tournament began in 1978.
“We brought on seven new players to the team this year, who complemented the team dynamic on and off the ice. Their chemistry is unparalleled; they play like they’ve skated together their entire lives. Their 2017-’18 record speaks for itself: 32-9-3 while maintaining a top-five national ranking all season on myhockeyrankings.com,” Coach Rodham said. “I speak for my co-coaches, Karlyn Donovan and Rachel Farrel, in saying that we were honored to lead this team and take part in this incredible journey. They’re a great group of players who would go through a wall for each other. This season, ending with the championship title, created a chest full of memories that will last a lifetime.”
The core of the team will continue to play for the Shoreline Sharks in the 2018-’19 season as a national tournament-bound team with a modified schedule that accommodates the high-school season. Seven of these Sharks’ athletes recently announced their commitments to attend and play hockey at some of the top preparatory schools in the country, including The Gunnery, Loomis Chaffee, Pomfret, Northwood, Westminster, and Williston Northampton.
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