In a career already filled with a multitude of magical memories, Nicole Gorbatenko can’t forget May 3, 2021, in West Chester, Penn., when her Chicago Mission club won the Chipotle-USA Hockey Girls Tier I 14U National Championship.
Gorbatenko sent a pass to her sister, Rachel, who scored the game-winning goal 26 seconds into overtime.
“We played really well and our goalie (Heather Wolff) stood on her head,” Gorbatenko said. “I passed the puck to Rachel in the slot and she buried it like treasure – just like we practiced. That was so much fun.”
Gorbatenko, 15, a sophomore at Barrington High School has already had countless fun on-ice moments. She skated, for instance, for the Barrington Fillies on Sunday, March 19, in the Illinois High School Hockey Girls State Championship game against Loyola at the United Center. She also has skated this season for the Mission’s 16U state championship team.
“It has been a blast (skating for Barrington); we had a great team last year and this year it’s even better,” said Gorbatenko, who flagged winning the Metro Girls Scholastic Cup – over Loyola – as a highlight, especially with Mission teammates skating for the Ramblers.
Barrington coaches Jeff Rajski and Dave Sherrin regularly change the team’s lines to best position the Fillies, thus, she plays with many other forwards. Of late, Gorbatenko has been skating with Kelly Lenderman and Dakota Becco. She also at times teams with Julie Duce and Kiley Wrzos. “It doesn’t really matter who I get to play with, it is always fun,” Gorbatenko said.
The key is, their communication, plus hard-work and getting shots on goal, Gorbatenko said.
“If we are doing well, it is like an action movie: a lot of shooting and crashes.”
Rachel plays defense for the Fillies.
“It’s awesome having my sister as a teammate,” Nicole said. “Not a lot of people get that opportunity; I am blessed. It’s also cool because we seem to find each other on the ice a lot. She sleeps in a bunk above me at home so maybe that has something to do with it.”
Nicole, 15, sports uniform No. 43. There are seven siblings in her family of slapshots:
“Everything is a competition or a race, but is super fun” among the siblings, Nicole said. “There are lots of holes in our walls and one broken window. We can’t even play ping-pong without making it a tournament with full brackets and double elimination.”
Nicole, like all her siblings, started skating at the Hoffman Estates Triphahn Center, home of the Wolfpack, Timberwolves and Wolverines.
“I started skating at 4. I remember that we did lot of hockey development classes at Hoffman. They had great coaches and assistants. It was a lot of fun,” Nicole said.
Gorbatenko is a skilled, talented, aggressive player. “I like to work with my teammates to bank up a lot of shots on net. I like to have fun on the ice,” she said.
Nicole said her oldest sister, Kelly, has been a major influence on her career – and Kelly will be playing Division I hockey in the fall.
“She is very competitive, like me,” Nicole said. “It’s always so much fun playing with her because we know where each other are on the ice. Like with Rachel, I play very well with Kelly.
Slapshots With … Barrington Fillies & Chicago Mission 16U star Nicole Gorbatenko
Next Step: “It is my dream to play college hockey and take the sport as far as I can.”
Career Goals: “I have a dream and therefore a goal of playing hockey with Rachel in the U18 Worlds, like my oldest sister Kelly. I would then love to play college hockey and hopefully win a national championship. Lastly, I would love to represent the U.S. in the Olympics and play with my sisters. These are lofty goals, yes, but that’s why I want to pursue them.”
Away From Hockey: She enjoys lacrosse, swimming, martial arts, basketball, gym workouts, football, spending time with her family and friends, and cuddling with her dog.
Little-known Fact: “I love to do my nails.”
Giving Thanks: “I am grateful for all the great coaches, players and rivals. Hockey has been a huge blessing for me.”
Favorite NHL Team: Pittsburgh Penguins
Favorite NHL Player: Sidney Crosby
Favorite Sports-themed Movie: Miracle
Favorite Pre-game Meal: Whole grain rice with a meat protein.
Celebrity You’d Like To Meet: “The Rock” Dwayne Johnson
Best Hockey Tip: “Don’t argue with the refs.” – Her dad
Teammate Who You Could See As A Hockey Coach: Ella Pukala
Hardest Slapshot on Barrington: Rachel Gorbatenko
Most Accurate Shot: Mia Winterkorn
Fastest Skater: Dakota Becco
Best High School Uniforms (other than Barrington): “The Romans uniforms are pretty cool.