“Coach does much more than he really should,” sophomore and leading scorer Ryan Durikin said. “He fills up the water (bottles), sharpens our skates. He does everything.
“It’s just really tough to see him have a hard time. I think it served as an inspiration. We didn't really talk about it much, but I think each of us kind of knew in our heads that we had to win these last couple games for the coach and his father.”
Adversity takes many other forms for CBA/J-D, starting with their combined status. Christian Brothers Academy (private) and Jamesville-DeWitt (public) are actually bitter rivals when it comes to athletics. The atmosphere at their basketball games is always electric.
But the two schools combined on the ice several years ago, out of necessity, and put their quarrels to rest.
“They probably didn't have enough talent on the two schools to be top programs,” McKie said. “You’ve got to have both schools. Hockey brings that special bond out. I can't tell you how the guys feel, but it looks like we're one team.”
Neither Firman nor Durkin, both J-D students, see the combination as a distraction.
“I've been playing for four years, and I'd say this team is the most meshed out of any of the teams I've been on,” Firman said. “We all know each other pretty well, hang out, text each other, call each other up.”
“It's definitely weird not being at the same school and coming together every day after school playing with those guys,” Durkin said, “but I think it's kind of cool to put the rivalry aside and play with each other as a team. I think we mix together.”
After seeing Durkin go down with a broken thumb as a freshman, McKie’s first year as head coach, the Brothers avoided the injury bug this time around - until starting forward Lucas Relkin broke his wrist last week. Relkin, who scored the winning goal against Auburn in the first round of the playoffs, will be tough for McKie to replace.