2022 National Championship: Swap & Stop

Sharing Time Between The Pipes Leads Minnesota Team To Title

 

With 7:30 left in the second period of the 2022 Chipotle USA Hockey Tier I 16 & Under National Championship game, the Minnesota Grey made a change in net. It appeared to be an unorthodox move, given that the Grey were holding a 4-1 lead, as starter Sedona Blair skated to the bench and fist bumped her replacement Grace Zhan along the way.

But for the eventual 16U national champions, it’s has been an integral part of their development-first philosophy that propelled them to the title in the first place.

“Development at this level is huge,” head coach Meghan Rogers said about sharing time between the pipes. “We had two solid goalies so we have to get them both a chance. They both have earned their spot.”

The two goalies welcomed the opportunity, comradery and experience the setup affords.
“Having Grace by my side has been awesome,” Blair said of the pair’s relationship. “We support each other so much. After every single save, we’re just supporting each other and cheering for each other.”

“It means a lot for both of us, for sure,” Zhan added. “Being a goalie, if you split games, it’s definitely hard to get warmed up if you’re starting second. Knowing that my team will have my back and they will backcheck, they will shoot, they will score, is definitely a confidence boost for ourselves, for sure.”

One of the only teams to share goaltending duties during the tournament, the tactic paid off as the Minnesota team ran the table with a 6-0 tournament record, including three overtime victories and a decisive, 5-2, championship game victory.

We support each other so much. After every single save, we’re just supporting each other and cheering for each other.”

“The goalies have definitely been the energy of the team,” Rogers said after the program’s first title at the 16U level. “In the locker room, they’re the leaders that we look up to. All the players go all out for them, they block shots for them, they clear out bodies in front of the net for them and all season long they’ve done whatever it takes to win.”

In addition to sharing time between the pipes, both goalies sported similar numbers throughout the tournament, with Blair giving up 6 goals on 192 shots while Zhan surrendered 4 goals on 120 shots.

For the Grey, the importance of development both on and off the ice is a vital part of the program’s game plan that was reinforced by their success on the national stage.
“I had no hesitations when it comes to swapping the goalies during the tournament,” Rogers said after the final championship buzzer.

“Ultimately, we have trust in both of them and we’re going to keep switching half and half no matter the score of the game or the momentum we have. It just shows the amount of trust we have in our goalies and how they’re the backbone of this team.”

 

photos by  Premier Event Photography

 

Issue: 
2022-04

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