Mar 10, 2013 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
A season that began in a haze of defeats and frustration ended with sticks, pads and helmets scattered on the ice at Utica Memorial Auditorium in celebration of an impossible dream brought to life.
Yes, it’s true – the CBA/Jamesville-DeWitt ice hockey team is state Division II champions, having taken the last step in typically dramatic fashion as it rallied in the third period to beat John Jay-Cross River 4-2 in Sunday’s state title game.
“It was a complete effort,” said CBA/J-D head coach Mike McKie. “Two schools came together, and so did the players and coaches. It was a lot of hard work, with kids never giving up and finding ways to win.”
One of those players, goaltender Tim Decker, admitted that, after a 1-6 start, the mere notion that the Brothers could get a state championship was ridiculous.
“I knew we were skilled and had determination,” he said. “But I didn’t think we’d make it this far. It’s just amazing.”
Tournament MVP Braeden Doust put it another way. “It’s almost indescriable, the best feeling in the world,” he said.
Given all the elements, on and off the ice, that surrounded CBA/J-D’s post-season odyssey, it only figured that the last hurdle involved yet another late-game rally.
The Brothers and John Jay-Cross River, the Section I champion also going for its first state championship, were tied 1-1 when, in the closing moments of the second period, the Indians’ Jack Grimm got a solo breakaway and beat Decker for the go-ahead goal.
So at intermission, the Brothers trailed 2-1, but that was half the deficit it overcame in the state semifinal against Beekmantown, and McKie reminded them of that fact and got ready for the final – and decisive – 15 minutes.
“They looked a little down,” said McKie. “But I told them that we’ve been in this situation before, and if we get that first goal, we’ll get the momentum back and we’re going to be champions.”
Early in the third period, CBA/J-D picked up a power play when JJ-CR’s Connor Moore went off for head contact. Just 10 seconds later, Doust jumped on a rebound of Jed Raby’s shot and put home the tying goal. Lucas Relkin also had an assist.
But Doust wasn’t done. With 9:35 to play, just after Indians goalie Matt Lanza stuffed Pete Dziergas on a solo breakaway, Doust arrived in a two-on-one situation. off a pass from Kane Alletzhauser, Doust hit a perfect wrist shot that beat Lanza on the top side to put CBA/J-D in front 3-2.
Then it was up to Decker, Raby, Sam Mueller and the rest of the Brothers’ defense to protect that lead. They did so, Decker finishing with 25 saves, and with Lanza pulled in the last minute, Drew Brooks, taking a pass from Doust, added the clincher into an empty net with 44.1 seconds left.
In many ways, Decker made sure JJ-CR didn’t get the lead earlier than it did. He made a series of great stops on the Indians in the game’s early stages as CBA/J-D struggled to get its own attack going.
Despite those few chances, the Brothers got a 1-0 lead 6:51 into the first period on Ryan Durkin’s wrist shot from the right point, assisted by Mueller and captain Scott Firman.
For much of the second period, CBA/J-D stayed in front, despite JJ-CR unleashing constant attacks. Decker turned everything away until Frasier Bostwick scored at the 13:11 mark to tie it, 1-1, just before Grimm’s go-ahead tally.
All that did, though, was create the perfect backdrop for the perfect – and fitting – ending to what Firman himself called a “Cinderella” run to the program’s first-ever state championship.
“The story of this season is awesome,” said Firman. “This is a bond that we will have for the rest of our lives. And the way we did it was nothing short of spectacular.”