BUFFALO — St. Joe’s hockey is known throughout New York State for its success, and with the Marauders’ second consecutive Catholic Schools State Championship this past Sunday, it’s no wonder.
Although it was their goal from the beginning of the season, coach Rich Crozier and the St. Joe’s team worked hard to get to Super Sunday and knew they couldn’t quit until the end as the upstate New York school finished off St. Anthony’s of Long Island by a score of 5-2 in the final of the New York State Catholic Schools State Championships at Harbor Center in Buffalo, N.Y.
The triumph marked St. Joseph’s 11th New York State title.
“There’s only one time we’ve won [the state championship] back-to-back and I can tell you that it’s incredibly difficult,” Crozier said at the beginning of the season.
Crozier and his assistant coaches pushed the team to work hard from the very first practice, and although it wasn’t always easy, the feeling after Sunday’s win over St. Anthony’s made every practice and every game worth it.
“It’s absolutely unbelievable,” said senior Mark Gilbert, who scored in Sunday’s win. “We’ve worked so hard all year, last year and this year. Just to be on this team is amazing. I couldn’t be more happy right now. To get a goal in the state championship has to be one of the biggest moments of my life.”
“It’s pretty nuts,” said goaltender Donovan Boshier, who finished Sunday’s game with 11 saves as St. Joe’s outshot St. Anthony’s 26-13. “We got a ring now. That’s what we’ve been working for all season. It’s amazing.”
Video Courtesy of IcingTheFed.com
“This is what we’ve been working for all season and it feels good to finally accomplish it,” added Luke Pierce, who scored an empty-net goal late in Sunday’s game. “There’s no words to explain it. It feels great.”
Jeremy Ienco, who scored the game-winning goal in overtime to defeat St. Anthony’s last year, scored twice to ensure another St. Joe’s state championship this year. He scored his second goal halfway through the period to give St. Joe’s a 4-2 lead, and he wished the game could have ended then and there.
“It must be what I eat,” Ienco joked about the reason behind his state final success. “After I scored two, I just wanted the game to be over. I just didn’t want them to have any chance to come back.”
Last year as a junior, Ienco worked hard to send the seniors out with a ring on their fingers. This year, he was able to do it for himself and his fellow seniors. And this year, it was junior Spencer Frome who scored the game winner. Like Ienco, Frome has been on the Fed team since his sophomore year.
“We’re looking for the three-peat,” Frome said. “That’s the goal next year.”
Pierce’s empty-netter happened in large part due to the depth of the St. Joe’s team, and it capped off quite a season for the first-year Fed player.
“We were rolling four lines — that’s pretty much the depth of our team and it’s one of our strengths,” Pierce said. “We were up two goals going into about five minutes left in the game, and we knew it was coming down to crunch time, and everybody was working hard in the defensive zone, getting the puck over the blue line. We had a two-goal lead, you’re going for the empty net, and a late change, Frome picks his head up and hits me, and I just got a breakaway and put it in. Your stomach just starts racing and it feels great. It just feels great going out on top. I don’t know how to explain it.”
Greg Barnych and Andrew Mancini scored for St. Anthony’s of Huntington, Long Island.
At the end of the day, St. Joe’s assistant coach Justin Crawford commended the hard work of this year’s Marauders team throughout the season.
“Plenty of times throughout the year we were down in our games and this group they just did not give up,” Crawford said. “In practice, they thought, ‘Okay, we’re getting pushed hard,’ but they wanted to be pushed even harder.”
It was a bittersweet day for the seniors, but as they each said, there was no better way to finish off their St. Joe’s hockey careers.
“Joe’s hockey has to be one of the best things that’s ever happened to me,” Gilbert said. “Obviously I’m sad it’s over, but to go out on top — there’s no better feeling.”
“Like I said last year, it’s about sending the seniors out with a ring on their finger and we did that for ourselves here tonight,” Ienco said. “There’s nothing like it.”
“I had it freshman year too… senior year tops it off,” said senior Kyle Clifford. “Best feeling in the world.”
“Oh my god, it’s unbelievable,” said assistant captain Mike Greco. “It’s the best way to go out. Obviously I wish it could never end, but it has to, so I’m glad it ended this way.”
St. Joe’s — Jeremy Ienco (Trevor Conschafter, Ethan Louisos) 9:00
St. Anthony’s — Greg Barynch (Michael Haggerty) PPG 6:48
St. Anthony’s — Andrew Mancini (Ryan Mahlmeister, John Forlenza) 8:11
St. Joe’s — Mark Gilbert (Kyle Clifford, Michael Greco) 7:33
St. Joe’s — Spencer Frome (David Matthew, Kyle Clifford) 6:49
St. Joe’s — Jeremy Ienco (Alexander Zuchlewski, Jack Lalley) PPG 6:24
St. Joe’s — Luke Pierce (Spencer Frome) ENG :56.2