Thursday April 25, 2013
Over St. Patrick’s Day weekend, The Vermont Shamrocks U-16 Girl’s Hockey Team clinched the New England Regional title in Augusta, Maine, where they earned a spot to compete on the national stage in San Jose California on April 3-7. Fresh from her high school hockey season, South Burlington’s own sophomore goaltender Courtney Peyko joined many of the area’s premier players to sweep the 6-game tournament and bring home the USA Hockey National Tier II title.
Both tournaments culminated with an amazing 11-0-0 post-season record, but none was as memorable and gratifying as the semi-final game against the host team, San Jose’s Junior Sharks. The matchup started out well for the Shamrocks, but then came the penalties. Time after time after time, Peyko, the Shamrock starting goaltender was put to the test; at one point she faced 8 consecutive minutes of five-on-three short-handed penalty-kills, including one of her own for cross-checking. But the Shamrocks managed to hold onto their 1-0 lead into the second, thanks in large part to a strong Vermont D and the stellar goaltending of Peyko, who would finish her half of the game with a shutout.
The Shamrocks made it 3-0 late in the second, but the Sharks battled back, scoring three goals in the third period to force the first of three sudden-death overtimes. Vermont would have power-play opportunities in both the 1st and 2nd overtimes, but could not find the back of the net. Finally, in the 3rd overtime, the long, penalty-filled semi-final game was won.
“The girls played every shift as hard as they could,” said Vermont Shamrock coach, and SBHS Principal Pat Burke. “San Jose has an amazing group of athletes, by far the best team we’ve played all year.”
“We all really came together as a group and we are really a family”, said Peyko. “It all came together in San Jose and we took away the gold”
The team has been invited to a ceremony in Montpelier on May 8th where Governor Shumlin will recognize the Vermont Shamrocks, the USA Hockey Tier II - Girl’s 16 and Under National Champions!