Shattuck-St. Mary's Making Its Mark on International Women's Hockey

Al DanielCorrespondent IIApril 10, 2013

OTTAWA, CANADA - APRIL 9:  Amanda Kessel #28 of Team USA with her gold medal after defeating Team Canada during the IIHF Womens World Championship Gold Medal Game at Scotiabank Place on April 9, 2013 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.  # of Team USA defeated Team Canada 3-2.  (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)
Richard Wolowicz/Freestyle Photo/Getty Images

Next season, Gordie Stafford will round out his first decade as head coach of the Shattuck-St. Mary’s girls’ 19-and-under hockey program, having started in 2004-05. Fittingly, that milestone is all but bound to coincide with an increased presence of his quintessential graduates at the Olympics.

In 2010, the men’s gold-medal game between the United States and Canada featured five graduates of the SSM boys’ program in Sidney Crosby, Jack Johnson, Ryan Malone, Zach Parise and Jonathan Toews.

Assuming the U.S. reaches the title tilt at the 2014 women’s tournament in Sochi, the school may match its own feat with five holdovers from the freshly crowned 2013 Women’s World champions. At least four would be surprising if they are omitted from the Olympic scroll.

Brianna Decker and Amanda Kessel, Team USA’s co-scoring leaders in the tournament, put a stamp on their difference-making status in Tuesday night’s gold-medal bout.

Decker inserted a 1-1 equalizer at 2:43 of the middle frame after the Americans had trailed at the first intermission. Kessel later tallied the lone third-period strike to finalize an eventual 3-2 triumph over the host Canadians.

Together with 2010 Olympians Jocelyne and Monique Lamoureux and Jen Schoullis, the talented tandem brought back old times. All five players in question were on Stafford’s 2006-07 Shattuck team that delivered the program’s third straight USA Hockey national championship, which emboldened the school’s revolutionary sway on the girls’ travel hockey landscape.

But that was merely the first step toward matching the success of the neighboring boys’ program, which has won eight U17 or U18 national titles since 1999 and produced handfuls of NHL players.

The Lamoureux twins took the next stride when they played for the U.S. at the 2006 Four Nations Cup, when they were still juniors at the Minnesota prep school.

From there, they did not disappoint as they made the first substantive splash by any Shattuck products on the NCAA women’s scene and, as mentioned, took a working break to partake in the Vancouver Olympics.

Nobody told Stafford to stop fostering world-class talent at that point. Or, at least, nobody worth listening to did.

On the contrary, the example of the top boys’ team taught that greed is good, in the way of both championships and elite alumni. Look no further than the NHL influx of Parise and Crosby in 2005-06, followed by Toews in 2007-08 and Derek Stepan in 2010-11, just to name a few.

In the intervening years between the Vancouver and Sochi Olympics of 2014, the Lamoureuxs have carried on with their development at the University of North Dakota.

Schoullis, one of their former SSM teammates throughout the three-peat that began Stafford’s reign, graduated from the University of Minnesota last year. She has generally skated under the comparative radar, but is a candidate to provide depth and boasts abundant winning experience on her transcript, including a recent Clarkson Cup victory with the CWHL’s Boston Blades.

Decker and Kessel, meanwhile, have emerged as piloting players at Wisconsin and Minnesota, respectively.

Decker’s sophomore surge with the Badgers, during which she led the nation with 12 game-winners, culminated in a 2011 NCAA title. She then became the first SSM alum to win the Patty Kazmaier Award as the best women’s Division I puckster in 2011-12.

Kessel promptly succeeded her in each department, helping the Gophers to last year’s national crown and then corralling the Kazmaier en route to a championship repeat last month. An undefeated Minnesota team began its NCAA tournament by terminating the Lamoureuxs’ UND career a week after North Dakota had cut off Decker’s senior season with the Badgers.

Only Kessel has any remaining collegiate eligibility, with her senior season still to come, meaning these players' days of WCHA faction are over. And the immediate reunion of Shattuck’s quintessential quintet on one bench set a promising tone for more.

In the World Championship, Decker and Kessel topped Team USA’s scoring chart with eight points apiece. After Kendall Coyne, Jocelyne Lamoureux was next on the leaderboard with five assists while her sister logged four goals.

Decker, Kessel and Monique Lamoureux were the only three Americans with multiple goals in the tournament, combining to insert 12 of the team’s 17. Along with Jocelyne Lamoureux, they combined for 25 (i.e. a little more than half) of the Amerks’ 49 points.

Their alma mater’s prominent position as a world-class talent factory is officially theirs to lose at this point.