Weekly Feature



2014-03-05 / Sports

Marauders defend state championship, defeat St. Anthony’s

Boys Federation ice hockey
by BRANDON KILIJANSKI
Reporter


The St. Joe’s Federation ice hockey team celebrates on the ice at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Long Island after winning the New York State Catholic Championship on Saturday by defeating St. Anthony’s 2-1. It was the Marauders second consecutive state championship, and their third in the last four years. The St. Joe’s Federation ice hockey team celebrates on the ice at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Long Island after winning the New York State Catholic Championship on Saturday by defeating St. Anthony’s 2-1. It was the Marauders second consecutive state championship, and their third in the last four years. St. Joe’s made it back-to-back state championships after beating St. Anthony’s 2-1 at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum — home of the New York Islanders — on Saturday night.

This is now the third state championship in four years for the Marauders. It was the first time since Canisius in 2010 that a Western New York team won the state championship while playing downstate.

St. Joe’s was clearly the team that peaked at the right time, as they were on fire at the end of the season winning 11 of their last 12 games, finishing at 17-10-0-1.

Heading into the game, St. Joe’s head coach Rich Crozier said he was able to gain information about St. Anthony’s best player, Joe Slevin, who entered the finals with 42 points on the season.

“We knew that they had a really good player, so we went in with the same game plan against Timon,” said Crozier. “Keep them to the outside and take away their shooting lanes.”

St. Joe’s started the game with some fireworks on the first shift. Senior defenseman John Schmitt scored 37 seconds into the game, which led him to being named as the game’s most valuable player.

The Marauders didn’t allow St. Anthony’s to clear the puck, and as a result, senior Nick Zenger fed a quick pass to Schmitt on the point and his one-timer rang off the post and in for the goal.

“We won the game by one, so that was huge,” said Crozier. “Momentum wise, it was real important. The night before we had an eight hour bus trip, and now we are in Long Island at the Nassau Coliseum for the state championship game. It was an incredible shot from the point. The puck rang off the post and went in and out so quickly.”

Then with three minutes remaining in the first period, St. Joe’s leading scorer, junior Dominic Perna, scored on a backhand to give the Marauders a 2-0 lead.

Junior Justin Crawford fed Zenger in front of the net and his initial shot was saved by the goaltender, but Perna quickly grabbed the rebound and fired it home.

“That was a really strong shift, we wore them down had some shots and then finished,” said Crozier.

But winning a state championship takes a full 45 minutes of good hockey. For the entire game, St. Joe’s used a 1-2-2 forecheck to focus on strong defensive coverage and not allow any odd man rushes into their zone.

St. Anthony’s scored in the second period to cut the lead to 2-1, as Slevin had an assist, which was his only point of the game.

That strong defense — added with spectacular goaltending by senior Peter Chopra — allowed the Marauders to hang on to the lead for the remainder of the game.

Chopra made 17 saves on 18 shots.

“Even though all of our offensive contributions were in the first period, we had excellent goaltending and defensive play,” said Crozier. “We said all season that defense wins championships and that proved to be true on Saturday.”

Not many people outside the Marauders locker room gave them much of a chance to beat St. Anthony’s. But what was more important was that the 22 St. Joe’s players all believed they could win together.

“Outside of our locker room, not many people believed that this would be our year again,” said Crozier. “We certainly faced a lot of adversity this year with our captain suffering an injury and then losing to Timon and Canisius in the regular season. But my faith in this team never wavered, it was strong from day one. The difference was 22 guys in the locker room believed we can do it, and it didn’t matter what other people thought. I’m sure some people are surprised, but we’re not.”

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