FORT WAYNE – Homestead and Carroll will each face familiar opponents in a quest for an Indiana State High School Hockey Association title Saturday at Notre Dames Compton Ice Arena.
The Spartans (30-8-3) will play Brebeuf (24-11-3) in the Class 4A state championship. Homestead played Brebeuf in the Martin Luther King tournament and lost 4-2.
They are what every coach wants in a team: They are fast, physical and with a lot of depth, Homestead coach Jeff Van Gessel said of Brebeuf. It is going to be a challenge.
The Chargers (20-16-5) go up against Culver B (8-11-1) in the 3A title game. The two teams have played twice this season, with each team winning a game.
It should be a very competitive game, Carroll coach Dustin Virag said. They are a well-disciplined team with a good system and good goal-tending. They tend not to get into too much trouble positioning and are a patient hockey club.
We need to stay out of the penalty box. We have proven many times throughout the season that if we stay disciplined, we are a very hard team to beat. We have a solid defensive core and our forwards have very good speed, which will be even more important on the larger ice at the Compton center.
Homestead, the regular season and the Fort Wayne city tournament champions, went 2-0-1 in the state round-robin portion last week in Fort Wayne to earn the right to play in the final game by virtue of a tiebreaker. The Spartans beat LSJ 5-0 and Marian 2-1 and tied Indianapolis Cathedral/Chatard at 2.
The three-game series we just had to qualify for state is the most difficult and stressful two days that any team and coaching staff will ever go through during any part of the season, Van Gessel said. All the games are a must-win situation, and everybody on every team is giving their all because there is no tomorrows. Our kids the last couple of years have came so close only not to make it by the goal tiebreaker. This year we were on the right side of the tiebreaker for a change, and the way the kids played they deserved that outcome.
The key for us to win is just do what we do every day in practice, and that is to skate hard, execute, play smart and hit. I have one of the best coaching staffs in the state. I have guys who have won state championships and who also have played on championship teams, and that experience goes a long way in getting the kids prepared for the challenge that is ahead of them.
Carroll also went 2-0-1 in the round-robin in Fishers, beating Indianapolis South Stars Blue 5-2 and Munster 7-2 and tying Evansville at 5. The Chargers also advanced by virtue of a tiebreaker and is excited about making the state championship.
This season has had a lot of ups and downs, so we are especially proud of how the players have been able to come together at the appropriate time, Virag said. Throughout the year, we have taken some steps forward and some back, and we struggled with consistency from game to game. We have addressed this as a team several times and have taken steps to try and improve. Its nice to see the team respond.