When the girls high school hockey season ended in the opening round of the state tournament for West Haven’s Taylor Nowak and Megan Froehlich, disappointment was still settling in when the pair realized there was still much more hockey to be played.

Playing for the Shoreline Sharks U14 Girls Black (AA) Team, the pair, along with former West Haven youth hockey standouts Melissa Montesi and Callie Dixon, had a regional tournament to play in.

The Sharks, based out of Guilford, went on a postseason run to remember, going undefeated in Tier II state, regional, and national tournament play.

“We played as a team throughout,” Nowak said. “Our goaltending was incredible. Our defense was very good and we were able to get the puck out when we needed to. We played really well.”

The season, which included 64 games played in a span of eight months, an overall record of 43-11-10, a record of 28-3-3 after January 1, and going undefeated in their last 20 games, saw the Sharks take home the national title, Monday, April 10 with a 2-0 victory over the Wisconsin Black Cats at the Troy Sports Center in Troy, Michigan.

“It was a phenomenal tournament run,” said head coach Ed Rodham in his season-ending summary to the team. “I am proud of what the girls accomplished. We played and beat teams from Alaska, Michigan, Colorado, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Wisconsin to win the championship title. The dedication of our players and their countless hours of practice paid off. We headed into the tournament undefeated in our last 20 games of the season, giving us the powerful momentum needed to win the USA Hockey National Championship.”

With the national title, the Sharks became just the 16th team from Connecticut to win a girls national title since the championship tournament format started in 1978.

According to www.myhockey.com, the Sharks were a consistent top 10 nationally-ranked team throughout the season as they competed in the Connecticut Hockey Conference (CHC) and won the state title in March. The squad advanced to the regionals in Camden, Maine and defeated the Casco Bay Mariners 3-0 to win the USA Hockey regional title.

“This team had a good bond,” Froehlich said. “We had a lot of things in common. On the ice, we played together and as a team.”

The Sharks consist of players from all over southern Connecticut. The forwards are Claire Gavin from Durham, Katie Porrello from Milford, Lucy Schumann from Stratford, Daniella Buccheri from Cromwell, Montesi and Cecile Tobin from North Haven, Nowak and Froehlich from West Haven, and Abby Hart from Fairfield.

The defense consists of Meagan Spring from North Haven, Kate Hagness from Guilford, Lauren Mullally from New Haven, McAllister (Callie) Dixon from Woodbridge, Sophia Rodham from Madison, and Juliana Constantinople from East Haven. Carina Mancini from Middlefield and Jenna Guglielmi from Branford are the team’s goaltenders.

In professional hockey, it would come as no surprise to throw in a boxing reference with the fighting that goes on in the league. For a local girls team, any comparison would seem odd, except in this case.

Looking for respect from around the league with opposing teams not knowing who the Sharks were, a running joke between coaches and some parents of “What’s my name?” came about and was compared to Muhammad Ali when he fought Ernie Terrell.

Feeling disrespected by Terrell because Terrell continued to refer to the great Ali by his birth name, Cassius Clay, leading up to the fight, Ali shouted “What’s my name?” each time he delivered a blow to Terrell.

As the hockey season went on this year, each win produced a sly “What’s my name?” from the Sharks. By the time the team had reached the nationals, everyone already knew their name.

“I didn’t know if we would win it at first,” Nowak said. “We went 6-0. The team played really well, and we beat some very good teams. Once we realized we had won it, it was an amazing feeling to just throw our gloves in the air and celebrate.”

What was also impressive about the Sharks was how they won games. In 16 tournament games, including state, regional, and national play, the Sharks gave up just 15 goals between Mancini and Guglielmi, which is less than one goal per game. Behind stellar defensive play, the team posted shutouts in 19 games this season, which is 30% of its games.

The Sharks advanced to the national title game when they defeated the Bay State Breakers 3-2 in overtime in the semifinals. Montesi scored less than a minute into the overtime session to set up the title game.

“The teams were really competitive and aggressive,” Froehlich said. “We were able to keep up with them. We did this with team work, working hard, and communicating with each other.”

The Shoreline Sharks are part of the fastest growing and largest girls program in southern Connecticut, offering developmental and competitive hockey programs for girls between the ages of three and 19.

Heading into the season, the coaching staff had a goal to make each player better and get them ready for the next level. That goal was attained.

The Sharks started getting that feeling of anything was possible in the regionals. When the first period ended in the title game, the nerves the team had about playing in such a big moment had disappeared when the team’s defense smothered Wisconsin through one period of play.

The Sharks then put their strategy of strong defense and goaltending, along with timely scoring to work. Despite the size and physical advantage Wisconsin had, the Sharks won the battles.

The season saw great success from the Sharks and Nowak led the way as the leading scorer with 39 goals and 16 assists for 55 points. Dixon and Montesi were also stellar as Dixon finished with 23 goals and 21 assists for 44 points, and Montesi had 17 goals and 20 assists for 37 points. Nowak’s line mate at West Haven, Froehlich, had five goals and six assists for 11 points.