BUFFALO — There’s an incredible rush of emotion when a team accomplishes what it’s worked for and hoped for, for so long. When Williamsville North won the Division 1 New York State Championship at HarborCenter in Buffalo in front of friends and classmates who’d spent the whole season cheering their team on from the stands, emotions ran high.
“It hasn’t even sunk in yet; it’s unbelievable,” said Josh Surowiec just minutes after receiving the state championship plaque. “I just can’t believe it. Everything we’ve worked for all year, all three years — it’s unbelievable.”
Now a senior, Surowiec has been on the varsity team since his sophomore year. Even then, he was a key member of the Spartans. He’s a strong defenseman, but every now and then he’ll bury a few goals as well.
Defeating Section V’s Pittsford made the win even sweeter for Williamsville North. Last season, the teams met in regionals and despite outshooting Pittsford, the Spartans couldn’t get past Pittsford. This year, a 3-2 win over Pittsford in the finals did the trick.
Adam Batz continued to shine on the big stage for North with the game-winning goal. He also scored the game winner in overtime in the Section VI Championship. Brett Sardina and Andrew Bruno scored as well in North’s fourth straight one-goal playoff win.
Video courtesy of Icing The Fed
On Saturday, North defeated Mamaroneck, the No. 1 ranked team in the state at the time (now No. 3 being St. Joe’s and the Spartans), just 1-0. It was an unlikely hero for North on Saturday, as it often is in playoff games for any team.
Trevor Cavalier scored his first Fed goal, assisted by linemate Joe Oliver, with 3:17 left in the first period.
“Truthfully, it was just luck,” Cavalier said. “I was tipping and deflecting shots from the beginning of the first period, and then that one just went right in. It was amazing. The adrenaline — I was so hyped.”
“Everybody was so happy,” Oliver added. “We’re the third line, so we don’t score much. When we do, it’s a big deal, especially in a game like this.”
No one else was able to solve Mamaroneck goaltender Tommy Spero, the state record holder for shutouts in a season, but North held Mamaroneck to just 13 shots, and Jake Zurat stopped them all for a 1-0 shutout win.
“We’re not really a team that looks at the stat sheet a lot,” said defenseman Matt Jeffries. “We just go out there and work as hard as we can, and if it’s Cavalier getting the goal, if it’s Joe getting the assist, it’s whatever. We just try to win.”
“All the shots were mostly from the outside,” said Zurat. “Defense did a good job blocking shots. Matt had a big block at the end. Stuff like that that it takes to win, we did really well today.”
Sunday was more of the same. North outshot Pittsford 31-15, and the Spartans’ depth once again showed on both offense and defense.
“Like yesterday, we were just keeping them all to the outside,” Jeffries said. “We knew that they had a solid two lines, and we just did what we had to do to win.”
When the final buzzer sounded, the Spartans were officially state champions. And it hadn’t sunk in. For several of these players, this was the end of their hockey careers. A few announced retirement via Twitter. Others spoke of it on the ice.
“It’s the best way to go out,” said Surowiec. “I’m pretty sore. I’m gonna hang ’em up now.”
“This was probably my last game ever, and I’ll never forget it,” said Daniel Mosher.
For all of them, it was a dream come true.
“It’s what we’ve wanted ever since I was a little kid going to watch North games,” said Surowiec. “It’s just surreal right now.”
“I’m not really thinking, honestly,” Jeffries said. “It’s insane that we came this far. During the beginning of the season, there were obviously a lot of doubts, and we had guys go down, but we really just came together as a team. That’s why we’re here, and that’s why we won. I have no words. This is my dream.”
Pittsford — Connor Haimes (John Avery, Ryan Walpole). 2:52
Williamsville North — Brett Sardina (Matt Bielinski). 9:11
Williamsville North — Andrew Bruno (Griffin Green, Anthony Trigilio). PPG 11:31
Williamsville North — Adam Batz. 14:23
Pittsford — John Mozrall (Mitchell Haight). 8:43
Written by Melissa Brawdy/HockeyClan Contributor