By: Jake Jones
As time expired in the Ice Den, the Division 1 hockey team skated off the rink. Regardless of their defeat in the semifinals, they left the ice as champions, and the bond that they formed will never be broken.
Head coach Joe Dusbabek reflected on the season as a whole and said, “Our season went really well but did not finish as we had hoped it would. Like we always do, we wanted to use our work ethic and skill to build a team that would compete down the stretch for a state title and peak at the right time. We did that this year but fell short of a State Title in a tough loss to Chaparral in the semi-finals.”
Dusbabek was extremely proud of his players and their growth. Even though his goal was to win a state title, he was still really pleased with the progress his team made throughout the season. He felt they did a nice job competing down the stretch and that they were just a few plays away from making it to the big game.
When senior right wing Kaiden Mazehari was asked about his team’s strengths, he said, “I think our strength was probably our ability to play fast and hard all game. We were really physical at the point of attack. We also had the ability to finish around the net with our team’s shooting capabilities.”
The intense training that this team went through led them to the semifinal game. Waking up at 5:00AM and practicing daily gave them the discipline to overcome any adversity they faced. When playing from behind, the Saints displayed the resilience necessary to keep fighting.
Dusbabek said, “Under pressure, we have risen to the occasion many times. There were numerous instances where we played with a short bench and came from behind to win. In the playoffs, we were primed and ready. The other team’s goalie had an outstanding performance and that was the difference.”
The Saints’ style of hockey was ideal for any game situation. Throughout the season, the Saints were up to the challenge when their backs were up against the wall. However, when it came to the playoffs, the difference was Chaparral’s goalie. His incredible performance was insurmountable.
When senior center Neiman Ham was asked about how he felt this year went, he said, “I feel like it went really well. Even though we didn’t get a ring we still accomplished a lot. I mean those guys are my brothers for life.”
Ham reflected on his season much like the rest of the team in the sense that they put everything they had on the line. They all had a strong sense of camaraderie which united them as a team.
The Saints’ season ended in a nail-biting loss against one of the best hockey teams in the state. Under Coach Dusbabek and the leadership of its nine seniors, this team’s progression through the season was outstanding. Hopefully, next season they will take it all the way.