State champions… The Division 3 hockey team finished the season strong. With the ultimate goal of being state champions in mind, there was no sign that any team would be able to stop this robust team and now they have achieved their goal.

The Saints entered the playoffs ranked first in their league.  They started with a true nail-biting win against the Horizon Huskies in the first round. Freshman Tyler Posch won it with a last minute goal, bringing the score to 5-4, sending the Saints to the semifinals against Flagstaff.

Posch said, “It felt great to score the game winning goal. I didn’t really know what to think after it went in because it was such a blur and it all just happened so fast.” 

However, the Saints knew that this would not be the only challenge they would face in playoffs. Advancing to the semifinals, the team knew it would only get more challenging while facing Flagstaff. 

The team made sure it was prepared for the challenge, both mentally and physically. Freshman Tye Smuckler said, “The mentality has changed a lot for playoffs we just have a much more intense mentality we have been stepping up our practices for sure.”

The stakes of the game were higher than ever. With playoffs being single elimination, freshman Drake Sullivan said, “My mentality hasn’t really changed with playoffs. I just realized the stakes of the game now.” 

Smuckler said that the team would wake up at 5:30 in the morning twice a week and have “team dinners before playoff games and hanging out and going to the gym.” The team was focused but loose with their end goal, a championship, on its mind.

As the highly anticipated Friday night game approached, both teams had their own pre-game rituals they do to play individually at their peak performance. When asked about some of his personal pre-game rituals, Smuckler said, “Some pre game rituals I have is to play tips with my teammates listen to some locker room jams and of course have to slick back my hair before putting it in my bucket.” 

Finally, the puck dropped and the Saints came out fast and hungry against Flagstaff. Coming off strong the Saints ended up winning 6-0 and would advance to the state final championship against Desert Vista. 

More ready than ever to claim the title the Saints came out strong in the final game. Pushing through adversity, the Saints took home the Division 3 State Championship thanks to a 3-0 victory over Desert Vista.