After completing the Texas Two-Step by winning both State and City championships, the Jesuit Hockey team felt like they were on top of the world. But, they had one more challenge, and it was easily the hardest challenge they faced all season: winning Nationals. The obvious difference is that instead of playing the best teams in Texas, the Rangers now had to face the top teams in the entire United States. However, they were unable to obtain enough points to advance to the next round, despite grinding through a key first win in a shootout. Here’s a closer look into each of the three games.
Going into the tournament, Coach Kevin Smith “had an idea that it would prove to be a tough road,” yet “felt we had a team that was capable of winning.” His team did not disappoint him in the first game, pulling out a tough win in a shootout. The Rangers got on the scoreboard early in the first period when Anthony Calabrese ’18 and Alexander McBey ’18 scored to give the team a 2-0 lead. After going scoreless in the second period, the Rangers only had one more period until they could claim their first win of the tournament. However, their opponent, Santa Margarita (CA), built some momentum by coming back to tie the game. The Rangers couldn’t find the back of the net in the 3rd, so the two teams went to overtime. Both teams still couldn’t score with extra time, so they went to the shootout. With goalie George McBey ’16 playing like a brick wall in front of the net, the Rangers were able to win on a goal from junior Louie Helsen ’16. Andrew Ngov ’17 said that after the game, “we thought that we could compete with any school after that game.” His teammate Sullivan Sheahan ’17 agreed, saying, “It’s always nice getting that first win of a tournament to start it off.”
With their confidence high, the Rangers entered their next game ready to take on a new opponent, coincidentally against another Jesuit school: Regis Jesuit. After a scoreless first period, Anthony Calabrese ’18 scored to give Jesuit a 1-0 lead. It was a big confidence-booster, especially because they really needed a win to advance to the next round. However, their hopes of winning were dashed when Regis Jesuit scored four unanswered goals in the second and third periods and defeated the rangers 4-1. Sullivan Sheahan ’17 summed up the game by saying “I didn’t think we played as well as we could but if we did, it still wouldn’t have been an easy win.”
However, before the third and final game of pool play had begun, the Rangers were unfortunately eliminated because they did not have enough points to advance to the next round. Since Jesuit had gone to the shootout in their first game, they only gained two out of the three points possible and, coupled with the loss, they couldn’t advance. “If we had pulled this win off [against Regis Jesuit], it would’ve been us [in the finals],” said Carson Platt ’17.
With this knowledge going into the final game, the team still kept their positive attitude. Andrew Ngov ’17 said that his team “played like we were advancing to playoff round” and “wanted to leave an impression on the nation that we will be back next year, as a stronger and more experienced team.”
The Rangers faced off against North Broward Prep (FL) and easily handled them, cruising to a 3-1 victory to end the season. The freshmen of the team controlled much of the offense of the game, as Alexander McBey ’18 had two goals in the second period and Joseph Berg ’18 scored in the third to seal the win. George McBey ’16 also had a stellar game, making twenty-seven saves on twenty-eight shots.
Overall, Coach Smith was proud of his players’ effort in the tournament, saying, “I was very pleased with how our group played over the course of the three games, but we just were unfortunate to have been placed in the pool of death.”
The team will lose its lone senior, Vili Lappalainen ’15, but they believe they can come back next year even stronger. “With our strong core of sophomores and juniors coming back, I definitely believe that we can repeat the “dream” season we had this year,” said Andrew Ngov ’17. Carson Platt ’17 added, “We still have a great goalie in net and many new juniors and seniors capable of putting the puck in the net.” The seniors to watch out for next year include goalie George McBey ’16, one of the top goalies in Texas, as well as city championship and tournament captains Louie Helsen ’16 and Cameron Bartkoski ’16.
With another year under their belts and having the same group of guys coming back next year, not to mention the freshmen who will be playing next year, the Jesuit Hockey team will have a serious chance at winning the State and City Championships again. And who knows? Maybe they will finally get a National Championship.