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National Tournaments Start Thursday in Blaine

By Minnesota Hockey, 03/29/16, 8:45AM CDT

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13 Minnesota teams set to compete in 2016 USA Hockey Girls'/Women's National Championships this weekend.

The 2016 USA Hockey National Championships for the Girls Tier 1 and Senior Women’s divisions are set to begin this Thursday at the Schwan Super Rink in Blaine, MN. The tournament, which is being hosted by the Women’s Hockey Association of Minnesota (WHAM), will feature the top teams from across the country in six classifications.

The tournaments will mark the first time in 20 years a national tournament has been held in Minnesota, and fittingly, Minnesota will have more participants than it has in more than a decade.  Local fans will have the opportunity to watch seven Girls’ Tier 1 teams and six Senior Women’s teams made of predominantly Minnesota players compete against the nation’s best.

The games will begin Thursday, March 31st at 8 am and run until 10 pm each night. The Senior Women’s championship games will be held in the late afternoon on Sunday, April 3rd, and the Girls Tier 1 championship games will take place the morning of Monday, April 4th. 

In addition to the great girls’ and women’s hockey on display all weekend, WHAM will be hosting an outdoor block party on Saturday, April 2nd from 11 am – 6 pm.  Local food and beverage vendors will convene in the parking lot outside the arena to provide participants, family, friends and fans with a Taste of Minnesota Hockey.

Girls Tier 1 Preview

When most Minnesotans think of Tier 1 hockey, Shattuck-St. Mary’s is at the top of the list, and rightfully so, as the prep school is the only team in Minnesota sanctioned to play Tier 1 throughout the season. However, many may not realize that Shattuck-St. Mary’s, which is known for producing NHL stars such as Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews and Minnesotans Zach Parise and Kyle Okposo, is even more prominent in the world of girls’ hockey.

Shattuck-St. Mary’s is the reigning national champion at the Girls Tier 1 16U level, having won the title each of the past three seasons. They’ve also claimed the runner up title each of the past two years at the Girls Tier 1 19U and won five national titles at the level in a seven year span from 2005-2011.

This season Minnesota will also be entering five teams from its inaugural pre/post Girls Tier 1 league. The Upper Midwest High School Girls Elite League (“Girls Elite League”), which has been organizing a fall league for the top girls’ high school players in Minnesota for several years, formed six Girls Tier I (three at each level) eligible teams. Each of those teams participated in the Girls Elite League before competing in the Minnesota District playoff last fall.

The MN Elite Grey 16U and MN Elite Black 19U earned automatic district bids to the national championships, in addition to both Shattuck-St. Mary’s teams, in the district playoffs. Then, three more teams received at-large bids including MN Elite Sky 16U, MN Elite White 19U and MN Elite Red 19U.

All of the players on the Girls Elite League teams spent the majority of their season with their local high school team. Recently, the teams have re-organized in preparation of the national championships.

What the teams may seemingly lack in chemistry, they more than make up for in talent. There are 56 Division I college commits across the five Girls Elite League teams, two of which feature mostly sophomores. 11 players from the Girls Elite League teams were members of the 2016 US U-18 Women’s World Championship team, including three players (Grace Bowlby, Presley Norby and Natalie Snodgrass) who were also on the 2015 gold medal winning team.

The rosters of the Minnesota representatives in the Girls Tier 1 16U are available here and the Girls Tier 1 19U teams are available here.

Senior Women’s Preview

If you think the only reason to visit the Super Rink this weekend is to catch a glimpse of the future stars of women’s college hockey, you may miss out because the quality of the Senior Women’s divisions would surprise you.

The McGoverns team alone, which is competing in the Senior Women’s A division, features a roster of almost all Division I alumni. In fact, 12 of the team’s players are still competing at a high level with the Minnesota Whitecaps. The team even features four players with experience on the US Women’s National Team including Winny (Brodt) Brown, Krissy (Wendell) Pohl, Brook White and Sarah Erickson.

Minnesota’s other representative at the Senior Women’s A level, the Minnesota Blue J’s, is no slouch either. The team includes over 10 Division I alumni, four of which have played on the US Women’s National Bandy team, and a couple of Division III All-Americans.

In total, six teams from Minnesota will compete in the Senior Women’s National Championships. The Minnesota Blue J’s (2013 & 2014) and Minnesota McGoverns (2015) have combined to win the last three Senior Women’s A National Championships. The Minnesota Blue J Bandits (Senior Women’s C) return as defending champions as well, and the Senior Women’s B tournament will feature three teams from Minnesota: Blue J Hawks, Shenanigans and Nutcrackers.

For rosters of each of the Minnesota teams participating in the Senior Women’s championships, click here.   

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The 2016 USA Hockey National Championships for the Girls Tier 1 and Senior Women’s divisions are set to begin this Thursday at the Schwan Super Rink in Blaine, MN. The tournament, which is being hosted by the Women’s Hockey Association of Minnesota (WHAM), will feature the top teams from across the country in six classifications.

The tournaments will mark the first time in 20 years a national tournament has been held in Minnesota, and fittingly, Minnesota will have more participants than it has in more than a decade.  Local fans will have the opportunity to watch seven Girls’ Tier 1 teams and six Senior Women’s teams made of predominantly Minnesota players compete against the nation’s best.

The games will begin Thursday, March 31st at 8 am and run until 10 pm each night. The Senior Women’s championship games will be held in the late afternoon on Sunday, April 3rd, and the Girls Tier 1 championship games will take place the morning of Monday, April 4th. 

In addition to the great girls’ and women’s hockey on display all weekend, WHAM will be hosting an outdoor block party on Saturday, April 2nd from 11 am – 6 pm.  Local food and beverage vendors will convene in the parking lot outside the arena to provide participants, family, friends and fans with a Taste of Minnesota Hockey.

Girls Tier 1 Preview

When most Minnesotans think of Tier 1 hockey, Shattuck-St. Mary’s is at the top of the list, and rightfully so, as the prep school is the only team in Minnesota sanctioned to play Tier 1 throughout the season. However, many may not realize that Shattuck-St. Mary’s, which is known for producing NHL stars such as Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews and Minnesotans Zach Parise and Kyle Okposo, is even more prominent in the world of girls’ hockey.

Shattuck-St. Mary’s is the reigning national champion at the Girls Tier 1 16U level, having won the title each of the past three seasons. They’ve also claimed the runner up title each of the past two years at the Girls Tier 1 19U and won five national titles at the level in a seven year span from 2005-2011.

This season Minnesota will also be entering five teams from its inaugural pre/post Girls Tier 1 league. The Upper Midwest High School Girls Elite League (“Girls Elite League”), which has been organizing a fall league for the top girls’ high school players in Minnesota for several years, formed six Girls Tier I (three at each level) eligible teams. Each of those teams participated in the Girls Elite League before competing in the Minnesota District playoff last fall.

The MN Elite Grey 16U and MN Elite Black 19U earned automatic district bids to the national championships, in addition to both Shattuck-St. Mary’s teams, in the district playoffs. Then, three more teams received at-large bids including MN Elite Sky 16U, MN Elite White 19U and MN Elite Red 19U.

All of the players on the Girls Elite League teams spent the majority of their season with their local high school team. Recently, the teams have re-organized in preparation of the national championships.

What the teams may seemingly lack in chemistry, they more than make up for in talent. There are 56 Division I college commits across the five Girls Elite League teams, two of which feature mostly sophomores. 11 players from the Girls Elite League teams were members of the 2016 US U-18 Women’s World Championship team, including three players (Grace Bowlby, Presley Norby and Natalie Snodgrass) who were also on the 2015 gold medal winning team.

The rosters of the Minnesota representatives in the Girls Tier 1 16U are available here and the Girls Tier 1 19U teams are available here.

Senior Women’s Preview

If you think the only reason to visit the Super Rink this weekend is to catch a glimpse of the future stars of women’s college hockey, you may miss out because the quality of the Senior Women’s divisions would surprise you.

The McGoverns team alone, which is competing in the Senior Women’s A division, features a roster of almost all Division I alumni. In fact, 12 of the team’s players are still competing at a high level with the Minnesota Whitecaps. The team even features four players with experience on the US Women’s National Team including Winny (Brodt) Brown, Krissy (Wendell) Pohl, Brook White and Sarah Erickson.

Minnesota’s other representative at the Senior Women’s A level, the Minnesota Blue J’s, is no slouch either. The team includes over 10 Division I alumni, four of which have played on the US Women’s National Bandy team, and a couple of Division III All-Americans.

In total, six teams from Minnesota will compete in the Senior Women’s National Championships. The Minnesota Blue J’s (2013 & 2014) and Minnesota McGoverns (2015) have combined to win the last three Senior Women’s A National Championships. The Minnesota Blue J Bandits (Senior Women’s C) return as defending champions as well, and the Senior Women’s B tournament will feature three teams from Minnesota: Blue J Hawks, Shenanigans and Nutcrackers.

For rosters of each of the Minnesota teams participating in the Senior Women’s championships, click here.   

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