Burrell’s Jarrett relishes being part of 1st PIHL girls hockey season

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Friday, June 24, 2022 | 3:39 PM


Ellie Jarrett was smiling ear to ear after the PIHL girls hockey championship game June 11 at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Cranberry Township.

The rising sophomore at Burrell proudly held the trophy after she helped Team East, with players also from Armstrong, Elizabeth Forward, Hempfield, Latrobe, Norwin, Penn-Trafford, Windber, Westmont Hilltop and West Shamokin, top Team Central, 2-1, in overtime.

“It was awesome,” said Jarrett, who also represented Burrell on a boys middle school team this past season and was a member of the Pittsburgh Vipers co-ed U14 travel team.

“We came from close to the bottom. We beat the undefeated team (Team West) in far too many overtimes (three) to get to the championship game. We put in the work, pushed through and succeeded when we needed to the most.”

Jarrett said she was proud to have the opportunity to play on the title-winning team in the first year for a PIHL girls league that came to fruition after several years of planning from people in and out of the league.

“It was neat to be able to play with other girls from all over the area and learn a bunch of things from them,” Jarrett said.

Team East came together around the time of the USA hockey youth national championship tournaments in March.

“It went OK at the start,” said Jarrett, a defenseman who played forward as the season progressed.

“From past travel hockey seasons, I knew a couple of the girls from there and also from camps. We obviously had to adjust to playing with each other. Overall, it went smoothly as we all had experience playing.”

Team East played each of the other five teams twice in the regular season and got off to a 2-5 start. But the team won its final three games heading into the playoffs.

Jarrett said Team East showed its strength by sticking together in the pressure-packed playoffs, where it was single elimination. The team won all three of its playoff games by one goal, including the overtime triumphs in the semifinals and finals.

“It’s just fun to be out there skating, playing this game and representing my (travel) team and also my school,” Jarrett said.

Team East coach Jon Yackmack credited Jarrett’s determined play at both ends of the ice as a key piece to the team’s championship run.

“At the start, I didn’t know a lot of the girls, but Ellie was one that I did know,” he said.

“I’ve coached her before. She gives great effort every time she’s on the ice. There’s no doubt about that. She is resourceful because she understands the game. She came in probably looking to play more defense, but we ended up using her as a forward from about the midway point in the season. I thought she was more beneficial to the team as a forward as she forechecks really hard and kind of creates havoc out there. She just loves to compete. You know what you are getting out of her.”

Jarrett will join the Burrell JV team this upcoming season. She also is on the hunt for a girls travel team as the one she was going to be on folded because of a lack of players.

The PIHL title was an early birthday present of sorts for Jarrett, who will turn 15 on July 2. This year marks a decade in organized hockey since her start with the Little Pens organization at age 5.

Megan Jarrett, Ellie’s mother, said Ellie has excelled and enjoyed hockey while not letting the challenges of autism, ADHD, sensory processing disorder and general anxiety disorder keep her from making strides forward.

“When she was 6, we were told she would never be able to skate or ride a bike due to her impaired vestibular system, which causes balance problems,” Megan Jarrett said.

“But Ellie already had been doing both for over a year. Also, in the beginning of her playing hockey, it took about 90 minutes to get her gear on because of the sensory issues. Thankfully, we’ve moved past that. She is such a determined person who loves to do so many things and just loves to get on the ice and play. We’re so proud of all that she has accomplished. She has so much more she wants to do.”

As Jarrett looks to her hockey future, she said she sometimes looks back to her hockey past and some of the positive experiences along the way.

She said she was grateful for the opportunity to meet some top female players, including Amanda Kessel, sister of former Penguins star Phil Kessel, when the National Women’s Hockey League came to Pittsburgh in January 2018.

“It was exciting to see them,” Jarrett said.

“They are some of the best players in the world. I had my Vipers jersey on, and one of the Connecticut (Whale) players said that my jersey (logo) was pretty fierce while they had this cute, happy, smiling little Whale. I thought that was pretty funny.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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