After losing the city championship 6-4 to Homestead on March 2, Carroll hockey coach Kent Hay didnt know how his team would react.
It was understandable, considering the Chargers had won the regular-season title. But Hay has learned much about his teams character as the Chargers have advanced to the Class 4A state championship game Saturday against Columbus at Fishers Forum.
Ive got to be honest with you, not really did I expect this, Hay said. Im still a little bit in shock. I dont want to talk negatively about the team, but coming off the disappointing loss in the championship game, Im proud of the way the guys came out and accomplished this. It shows how good the leadership is on the team.
The second-seeded Chargers (29-8-1) have a core of players who have skated together for as long as 12 years, and the leadership mantle has been taken up by captains Lucas Salerno and Trent Peters, plus alternate captains J.C. Conz, Pete Biggs and Ryan Lewis.
We shrugged our shoulders and went on to the bigger thing, the state tournament, and we pulled together as a team, said Conz, a Snider student, who had 17 goals and 28 points in 15 league games.
Blake Siebenaler had 15 goals and 26 points in 14 games. Salerno tallied 13 goals and 26 points in 14 games. In the state tournament, Conz has seven goals and eight points in three games – a 2-2 tie with Columbus (30-16-4), a 6-3 victory over South Bend Riley and a 5-4 victory over No. 1 Evansville.
Conz promised hard-nosed hockey, and Hay echoed the sentiments.
We play an aggressive style, Hay said. We get after teams. We put pressure on them in the defensive zone. We overload and put pressure on the puck. Its puck possession; the more possessions we have, the better off we are.
Leo (25-15-2), a first-year team that replaced New Haven in city hockey, will take on Penn (14-20-7) in the Class 2A championship game, also at the Fishers Forum.
While Paul Robison paced the Lions in league play – he had nine goals and 25 points in 15 games – it was Kyle Koop who has led the team with six goals and eight points in the state tournament. Fifth-seeded Leo beat South Bend Adams 6-3, top-seeded Brebeuf Jesuit 6-2 and Bloomington 5-2.
Were looking forward and have nothing but trophy on our minds, said Lions coach Dan Schiebel, who coached New Haven to the Class A title last year. Leo lost 4-2 to Penn on Nov. 14.
I expect us to dominate (Penn) from the drop of the puck, Schiebel said. They are the No. 2 seed, but they have not seen us in a full-team status. They have three players, (Alan Sinclair) being the star, and we have 13 players in double figures in stats. Their job is a lot worse than our job. We have a well-rounded team, three lines deep. Its not a two-line or one-line team. I can put anyone out there, and we have the No. 1 goalies.