Feb 24, 2013 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
What started as a sweet, emotional story turned more remarkable and improbable as the post-season went along.
And by the time the CBA/Jamesville-DeWitt ice hockey team was done on Saturday, it had achieved its first Section III Division II championship in 32 years, having knocked off defending champion Oswego 4-3 in the title game at Utica Memorial Auditorium.
“These guys have worked so hard, and I’m proud of them,” said Scott Firman, whose two goals proved so crucial to the Brothers’ victory.
Not since 1981, when CBA was still an all-male school, had the program won a hockey title. And it wasn’t supposed to have a great chance this time, either, as the no. 5 seed in a six-team Division II playoff field.
But then CBA/J-D went out and won 3-2 at Auburn in the first round, survived triple overtime to stun top seed Skaneateles 4-3 in the semifinals, and capped it off by erasing a deficit late in the third period to upend Oswego by that same score.
“To do it the way we did is truly amazing,” said head coach Mike McKie.
Given how emotional and theatrical this playoff run was (and given that this is the weekend that they hand out the Oscars), it only figured that the final act had a Hollywood-like feel.
CBA/J-D and Oswego were tied, 1-1, late in the third period when the Buccaneers appeared to gain the upper hand as, at the tail end of a power play, the Brothers could not clear the puck out of its own end and Jake Anderson scored to put his side up 2-1.
At that moment, McKie called his team’s only time-out. “I just wanted to kill their (Oswego’s) momentum,” he said. “I told the players that we had plenty of time.”
More than enough time, as it turned out, for Anderson committed a penalty and, seconds later, Braeden Doust deflected Sam Mueller’s shot from the point past Chase Izyk, and it was tied again, 2-2, with 2:34 left in regulation.
Newly energized, CBA/J-D attacked again, and just 36 seconds later Ryan Durkin, who hit the goal in triple OT to beat Skaneateles, got open in front and stuffed a shot past Izyk into the net, putting the Brothers ahead 3-2.
From having the lead, the Bucs now found itself having to pull Izyk to attack in the final minute, and it backfired as Firman converted an empty-net goal with 45 seconds to play.
Still, it wasn’t over as Oswego, down 4-2, cut the margin to one on Justin Clark’s goal with 32.7 seconds left, and made one more attack. But the Brothers turned it away, and time ran out.
The explosive ending contrasted the quiet nature of the game’s early stages. Oswego took a 1-0 lead on Zack Zerrahn’s breakaway goal late in the first period. And it remained that way through most of the second period, too, the Brothers’ defense protecting the net and goaltender Tim Decker turning everything away.
Just as the second-period clock was winding down, Firman, on a delayed penalty, charged into the Oswego end and fired a wrist shot past Izyk right at the horn. Oswego protested that it should not have counted, but the goal stood and it was 1-1, setting up the third-period dramatics.
“It was the case of a senior captain stepping up, just like he has in all the big games,” said McKie.
For his part, Firman said the whole team was playing for McKie, whose father passed away just three days before the playoffs started. It only added to the sense of fate and destiny working on CBA/J-D’s part in its championship run.
Next Saturday, the Brothers will go to the Buffalo area and play the Section VI champions in the regional playoffs. A win there would allow CBA/J-D a chance to return to Utica Auditorium for the state final four on March 9-10.