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  • The Spalding ice hockey team had support from the student body on hand to celebrate its 4-1 win over Mount Saint Joseph in the MIAA A Conference championship on February 16.
    Courtesy photo
    The Spalding ice hockey team had support from the student body on hand to celebrate its 4-1 win over Mount Saint Joseph in the MIAA A Conference championship on February 16.

Spalding Ice Hockey Defeats Mount Saint Joe For MIAA A Conference Championship

Colin Murphy
View Bio
February 17, 2018

It had been three years since the Archbishop Spalding boys ice hockey program lifted the trophy as champions of the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference.

After this year’s final against Mount Saint Joseph, the Cavaliers are back on top.

Sophomore Max Fleckenstein scored with seven minutes to play to break a 1-1 tie and help send the Cavaliers to an eventual 4-1 victory over the Gaels and the program’s fourth conference championship at Piney Orchard Ice Arena on February 16.

Cavaliers head coach Rob Trantin said his senior-heavy team focused on seizing the moment and making the most of their opportunity to go out with a title.

“We’ve had such a good year and a successful season, so I wanted them to feel like this MIAA championship belonged to them,” said Trantin. “I wanted them to enjoy it and make a lasting memory of it, and that’s what they did. They deserved it and they earned every bit of it.”

Mount Saint Joe’s, the reigning league champion which defeated Spalding in an overtime shootout in last year’s semifinals, made it difficult for the Cavaliers at every turn. Even after the Cavaliers took a 1-0 lead on a goal by junior Frank Megan, assisted by Fleckenstein, the Gaels came back to tie shortly before the end of the second period to create a 1-1 deadlock going into the final frame.

Senior captain Liam Eden said the Cavaliers stayed true to their identity heading into the decisive third period.

“When they tied it, I don’t think we were necessarily worried,” Eden said. “We just rallied back together. We calmed down in the locker room. We just said, ‘We’re the better team, and we just have to show it. We have to outwork them…We’re a really gritty team. We don’t necessarily have the most skill in the league, but we’ve had a really successful year because we’ve been willing to work hard and beat out our opponents like that.”

The Cavs carried play throughout the third period and eventually got their chance. Megan took a shot from the point, and Fleckenstein was in front of the net to redirect the puck for a 2-1 lead.

“It was pretty awesome, Frankie got a shot off, and I was in front of the net and was able to tip it in,” said Fleckenstein, adding that the crowd support—there was massive contingent of Spalding students and families in attendance—made a perfect atmosphere for a title-clinching goal. “The crowd lost it. It was really cool to be able to play in front of that many people.”

The Cavaliers were able to hold the Gaels to a single goal due largely to sophomore goalie Collin Berke, who had 30 saves.

“He’s the reason we won the game,” said Trantin of Berke. “You can have any game plan you want and have every other piece in order, and without quality goaltending, you’re not going to get much accomplished. A lot of crazy things happened in the game, but Collin stood on his head.”

The Cavs added a pair of empty-netters in the final 90 seconds, the first by Eden, and the next by Evan Donnelly, assisted by Eden and Benjamin Pazulski, to close out the win.

The title is the Cavaliers’ first since the 2014-15 season and the program’s fourth overall.

Fleckenstein said this year’s team has had strong chemistry right from the start.

“Everyone on our team gets along great,” he said. “We mesh really well. We have so many seniors, so the leadership is always there to bring us back together, and there’s always someone there to bring us back up.”

Trantin said it was fitting to bookend the career of the seniors, several of whom were freshmen on Spalding’s last title team, with another championship.

“It’s good for this group,” he said. “We have a senior-heavy team. They’ve been here the whole four years. They’ve been through some good times, they started out, a couple of those kids played on the top team [as freshmen], but for most of them this was their first time winning it, their senior year. These last two years were a little tough for us, a little bit down, but you know what, they were just grinding the whole way through, and I’m proud and excited for them to get this win.”

The Spalding ice hockey players are Fleckenstein, Megan, Eden, Berke, Donnelly, Pazulski, Jackson Good, Houston Hubbart, Dmitri Jukus, Kyle Lingis, Owen Mangan, James Marberger, Kian Olexo, Joshuah Park, Matthew Rand, Nikolas Skalski, Connor Suplee and Ian Swidersky. The team is coached by Trantin and assistant coaches Dave O’Toole and Vince Rubino.

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