Skaters glide to State championship
by Dan White
"Wait until next year," or "This was our rebuilding year," ... do these often used statements sound familiar? Well, if they do, talk to anyone on the Maine South Varsity Hockey team and he'll tell you that THIS was the year.
Bouncing back from a third place finish in the State AAA division finals last year, the mighty Hawks captured first place honors this season with a stinging 8-5 victory over Evanston in the state championship game played at Randhurst.
"We controlled the puck and in turn the game. That's what gave us the victory," said John Peters.
With their overall record of 30-5-2, the Hawks skaters were one of only two Maine South teams to finish out their season on a happy note. In state tournament play, Hawk skaters won all six of their games.
(Incidentally, there are 71 teams who start out the long journey in hopes of bringing back a State Championship.)
Thirty seconds into the game, Evanston opened up the scoring when Marty Venet stole the puck, proceeded down ice, and blasted a 20-foot slapper past Steve Sullivan.
South countered Evanston's slim one goal lead, tying the game with Jeff Starzec tallying for the first of his three goals of the evening. Defenseman Bob Berleth assisted with some fine heavy forechecking deep in the Wildkit zone.
Again due to excellent forechecking, this time by Dean Thomas, South scored their second goal. Hank Smyth was credited with lighting the lamp.
Before the first period came to a close, Jeff Starzec ripped in another goal, as did teammate Bob Havlir. Dan Sullivan and Bob Berleth were credited with the assists. The first period ended with a 4-1 score and zero minutes in the penalty box, which is unusual.
"Jack Prost, who is one of the best referees in the state, didn't call any cheap ones; nor did he let the game get too out of hand. It's great playing with a full team, rather than always seeing someone in the penalty box," said defenseman John Peters.
At 11:49 of the second period, Venit clicked for another Evanston goal, making the score 4-2.
In the final period, however, the Hawks stormed back overpowering the Wildkits as Jeff Starzec completed his hat trick with assists from Bob Havlir and Dan Sullivan.
The Sullivan line wasn't the only one on fire for the Hawks that night. Keith Krippner's line winged on the left by Dan Szumal and on the right by Curt Barcol set up two more. Mike Sifferman's aggressiveness cannot be overlooked in helping set up both goals. Sullivan put the icing on the cake at 3:03 when he scored a breakaway. Evanston added three more goals, one of which was popped past reserve goalie Mike Serio in the last second.