For the second year in a row, Viroqua’s Ivy Shonka competing in a national level tournament.
Shonka, an outstanding goaltender and four-year starter for the Viroqua cooperative girls hockey team, competed last spring as a member of the Wisconsin Selects U-16 squad and helped lead the all-star team to a third-place finish at the 2017 National Tier-2 tournament in Detroit, Michigan
This season, Shonka has been selected as a member of the inaugural U-19 Wisconsin Selects team which competed at the Chipotle-USA Hockey National Tournament played in Boston, Massachusetts, April 5-9. This was the first year Wisconsin has established a U-19 team and it is quite an accomplishment for a first-year program to advance to a national level tournament. The team qualified for the nationals by sweeping three games in the regional playoffs held at the Ozaukee Ice Center in Mequon, March 16-17.
The Selects used back-to-back overtime shootout wins in the opening two rounds of the national tournament, with a 4-3 thriller over South Dakota in game one and a nail-biting 3-1 OT shootout victory over the host Boston Shamrocks in round two.
Shonka did not play against South Dakota but proved to be the difference in the game in the round two victory, stopping 40 of 41 Boston shots in the win.
The Wisconsin all-stars, who held a commanding 56 to 40 shots on goal advantage, held a slim 1-0 lead until late in the third period, before the Shamrocks capitalized on a 3-on-1 breakaway to tie the score at 1-1 and force the overtime session. Shonka was on fire in the OT session stopping numerous scoring chances by the Boston skaters and had a smile on her face entering the shoot-out, seeming to relish the opportunity.
Shonka, brimming with confidence, stopped all four Boston shoot-out attempts, while her offensive teammates found the back of the net twice to secure the 3-1 win. The Boston area team had entered the tournament with a perfect 17-0 record this season.
The win set up a third-round match-up with the Alaska All-Stars. The Alaska skaters took advantage of a miscue by the Selects to grab an early 1-0 lead on a goal scored as a Wisconsin player accidentally tipped a bouncing puck over Shonka’s shoulder and into the net. Alaska went on to claim a 3-1 victory despite being outshot in the contest.
By virtue of their two opening round wins, the Selects qualified for the elimination round of the tournament versus the Nova Ice Dogs, Sunday, April 8. The game versus NOVA (Northern Virginia) was a re-match of last year’s third round U-16 Nationals, where the Ice Dogs defeated the Selects in a controversial shoot-out finish.
This season would write a different script for the U-19 Selects as they skated to a hard-fought 4-3 win. Wisconsin built a 4-2 lead entering the final period, before NOVA scored late in the game, but Shonka slammed the door and secured the win. Shonka recorded 22 saves in the game.
The victory advanced the Selects into a semifinal game on Sunday evening versus the East Coast Wizards, a tough local Boston area team. The Wizards jumped out to an early 2-0 advantage and held a 3-1 lead in the third before adding a late empty-netter to make the final 4-1. Emily Nettisheim started in net for the Selects and took the loss, facing 32 shots, while the Selects created just 11 scoring chances in the game. The loss ended the Selects run at the tournament with a 3-2 record, coming home with the bronze medal. It is the second year in a row Shonka has been a member of a bronze medal winning team on a national tournament stage.
Shonka has earned all-state runner-up honors the past two seasons for the Jesse Vetter Award as the Most Outstanding Wisconsin female high school goaltender and was named the Peggy Fiskis Outstanding Goaltender at the National Showcase Tournament in Pittsburgh last spring, a tournament she has also been invited to again this year in St. Louis, later this month. The National Showcase Tournament invites some of the best skaters in the nation to showcase their talents for colleges and university for evaluation and possible scholarship offers.
Ella Dahl, also from Viroqua and a member of the U-14 Tier 1 Madison Capitols, was sidelined with a hip injury and was unable to play with her team at the U-14 National tournament also held in the Boston area.