Nicole Schammel is a senior hockey player from Red Wing who is in the final stages of a stellar high school career. She holds school records in career goals and points and has signed a letter of intent to play Division I college hockey at Minnesota State Mankato.
Schammel had three goals and three assists in the Winger’s 7-2 victory over New Ulm in Wednesday's Class 1A state quarterfinals at Xcel Energy Center. On the season she has 61 goals, more than any other player in the tournament field.
As her high school hockey career comes to its conclusion this week, she was surprised to learn Wednesday where she ranks among some of the game’s legendary players.
Natalie Darwitz, who played at Eagan from 1997 to 2000 before continuing her career at the University of Minnesota as well as in the Olympics, is the state’s all-time leader with 468 career points. Schammel is No. 2 on that list with 452 points.
On the career goal-scoring list, Darwitz is first with 316, Schammel has 269 and Krissy Wendell (Park Center, 1998-2000) is third at 219. Wendell also played for the Gophers and in the Olympics, so that’s some pretty good company.
“That’s pretty cool,” Schammel said. “Obviously those guys are great. It’s an honor.”
Schammel plays on one of the top lines in the state with senior Emily Stegora and junior Reagan Haley. That trio did all the scoring for the Wingers on Wednesday. Stegora will also play at Minnesota State Mankato and Haley has made a verbal commitment to Minnesota Duluth.
“They might go down as one of the highest-scoring trios in high school league history,” said Red Wing coach Scott Haley. “What’s neat is the synergy between those three.”
That synergy extends beyond the ice. Schammel and Stegora are doubles partners on the Wingers tennis team, and they reached the section semifinals last fall. Haley, Schammel and junior Kayla Oberding are members of the golf team, which placed fourth in the Class 3A state tournament last spring.
“It’s a pretty special group,” Haley said. “We’ve really enjoyed watching these three play.”
If there is a younger group of girls at Xcel Energy Center during this week’s state tournament than the Blake hockey team, they’re probably selling Girl Scout cookies. Yes, the Bears are the defending Class 1A state champions, but they also have a roster packed with very young players.
Eight players graduated from last year’s Blake team, and nine of the 20 players on the 2014 state tournament roster are in seventh, eighth or ninth grade. The Bears’ class breakdown goes like this: three seniors, three juniors, five sophomores, four freshmen, three eighth-graders, two seventh-graders.
“I’m happy with the poise they’ve exhibited all season,” coach Shawn Reid said after the Bears defeated Alexandria 3-2 in Wednesday’s quarterfinals. “We have some really good poise on this team. The younger players are playing above their maturity level, which is phenomenal to see.”
Blake’s goals Thursday were scored by sophomores Carly Bullock (two goals) and Sylvie Wallin. One of Bullock’s goals was unassisted, and the assists on the other two Bears goals were by junior Lilia Everson and ninth-grader Sarah Levitt.
MULTI-TASKING AT ITS FINEST
Both of Alexandria’s goals against Blake were scored by senior Melissa Drown, who does much more than play hockey. Melissa not only is a captain on the hockey team, she is president of her school’s A Club, president of the Liberty Livewires 4H club, student council vice president, member of the National Honor Society and has a 3.8 GPA while taking advanced and college-level classes.
--In a game between teams making their first appearances at the state tourney, top-seeded East Grand Forks defeated Litchfield/Dassel-Cokato 8-1. Haley Mack had four goals for the Green Wave and Alexa Mack had one goal and three assists. Kennedy Sommerfeld had the goal for Litchfield/Dassel-Cokato.
--St. Paul United defeated Proctor/Hermantown 5-2 in the day’s last quarterfinal. Joie Phelps had two goals for St. Paul United, which was outshot 26-21 by the Mirage. St. Paul United is a cooperative team with players from Visitation and St. Paul Academy and Summit School.
--The best scene in the formal postgame interview room: While East Grand Forks coach Jim Scanlan and players Haley Mack and Coco Piche sat at a table in front of the gathered media, the rest of the Green Wave players sat with the reporters. As the session ended, the players applauded.
--Blake is the defending champion, and two of the key scorers in the Bears’ 2013 state title lineup returned this season .. and they are not yet seniors. Bullock and Karlie Lund (now a junior) were both named to the Class 1A all-tournament team a year ago. Bullock had four goals and two assists in three games at state last time and Lund finished with five goals (including a hat trick in the state semifinals) and five assists.
The Bears are playing without Lund at state, however. Coach Shawn Reid had some fun when talking about her status, jokingly using an approach common in the NHL: “Karlie is questionable with an upper body injury (end of joke). She has a broken collarbone, she’s out.”
--Blake is seeking not only its second consecutive state championship but its fifth overall. The Bears won titles in 2003, 2007, 2009 and 2013.
--New Ulm (which is a cooperative team involving New Ulm, New Ulm Cathedral, Sleepy Eye and Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s) is making its sixth consecutive appearance at state.
--Top-seeded East Grand Forks is playing at state for the first time. The Green Wave met Litchfield/Dassel-Cokato is Wednesday’s 6 p.m. game. Wednesday’s action also was the first at state for Litchfield/Dassel-Cokato, as well as for St. Paul United ( a cooperative team with players from Visitation and St. Paul Academy and Summit School), which met Proctor-Hermantown in the day’s final game.
BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 315
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 8,292
(*During the 2013-14 school year)
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn