Mission Complete

Abe Barnett, Aurelio Garcia And Shaffer Gordon-Carrol Build Off Youth Olympics Experience To Win A Chipotle-USA Hockey National Championship.

Abe Barnett, Aurelio Garcia and Shaffer Gordon-Carroll are no strangers to high pressure moments within the realm of USA Hockey. The Chicago Mission trio began 2024 battling against international opponents as part of the U.S. Youth Olympic Men’s Hockey Team  in Gangwon, South Korea. Team USA brought home the gold medal this past January, but that wasn’t the end of the hunt for these three teenagers.

Instead, the group built off their experience in South Korea by helping the Chicago Mission win the 2024 Chipotle-USA Hockey Youth Tier 15O National Championship with a 4-1 victory over the Long Island Gulls at Scheels Arena in Fargo, North Dakota.

Gino Cavallini, head coach of the Chicago Mission, said the groups international experience certainly helped his team at nationals.

“Playing for your country is something special,” Cavallini said. “Being included in that group of players was very exciting for those three young men. They had a little more swagger knowing that they had all eyes on them at Youth Olympics and now they come to a setting like this and they brought a calm, composed demeanor to the locker room.”

Barnett tallied one goal and four assists at nationals, while Garcia scored five goals and four assists. Gordon-Carroll had two goals and an assist. 

“One thing that I took with me from the Youth Olympics was how to adapt to the different styles of play,” Gordon-Carroll said. “Every team at the international level has a different style of play and it translates to what we’re seeing here at the national championships. Every team is different and carrying that ability to adapt to different styles and compete with them is how we’re seeing success during the tournament.”

This was a valuable lesson for the young center as his adaptability gave the Mission a better understanding of how to manage a fast-paced, low-scoring game, especially in the title game. 

The Mission had outscored opponents 28-18 through the first five games of the tournament, but Chicago only took a 2-1 lead into the third period against the Gulls. 

Therefore, it was paramount the Mission manage the puck, as well as their emotions—two things Garcia said his experience at the Youth Olympics taught him. 

Garcia’s ability to corral his emotions came into play big time when he sniped the puck past Gulls goalie Jordan Valcich with just 4:10 remaining in the third period to help solidify the Mission’s national title victory.

“One thing I learned playing at the Youth Olympics was the ability to handle playing in those high-pressure moments,” Garcia concluded. “Playing in front of a lot of people, and playing for a gold medal, that makes playing for a national championship a little easier because I know how to deal with the emotions throughout each game.” 

Issue: 
2024-04

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