The Columbus Icemen have played in Indiana State High School Hockey Association’s largest classification for most of its postseason tournaments.
But after years in 5A and — since the ISHSHA was reduced to four classes — in 4A, the Icemen figured they’d be in 3A this postseason. Instead, they were the highest-seeded 2A squad, and they’ve made the most of it.
At 1:30 p.m. Saturday, the Icemen will play Leo for a 2A state title at the SportONE Parkview Icehouse in Fort Wayne.
“We got placed in 2A instead of 3A, which was a little disappointing,” Icemen coach Isaac Coy said. “We were looking forward to being 3A. I think we could have competed in 3A. But when you go into an overtime shootout to advance to the (2A) final, maybe we were in the right spot.”
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The Icemen (19-19-3) made it to the title game in dramatic fashion. They beat Evansville Thunder 8-1 on Saturday morning and Hammond Bishop Noll 4-2 on Saturday night in South Bend in their first two pool games to set up a showdown against Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger on Sunday for the pool championship.
The Icemen jumped out to a 4-0 after one period, but got into penalty trouble and gave up three power-play goals in second. Dwenger took a 7-5 lead in third period, but Connor Long and Sam Thomasson scored goals in the final five minutes to tie the game and send it into overtime.
After neither team scored in the overtime, they went to a shootout. Dwenger went first and scored, and Danny Prochazka scored for the Icemen. Cam Stattenfield then saved Dwenger’s second attempt, and Mark Mayhew scored to give the Icemen a 2-1 lead.
After Dwenger missed again, Connor Long scored for a 3-1 Icemen lead. Dwenger scored on its fourth attempt, and the Icemen missed, leaving the score 3-2 going to the final shooters. Stattenfield came up with his second save of the shooutout to give the Icemen the victory.
“It was definitely emotional,” Coy said. “It was a roller coaster the whole game. It took a few minutes for it to sink in because of how the game progressed. We’re super excited to play for a state final.”
Thomasson scored three goals in the win against Dwenger. For the weekend, Mark Mayhew led the Icemen with 12 points, while Matt Jordan nine and Thomasson seven.
Jordan leads the Icemen with 29 goals for the season, while Mayhew has 19 and Long 12. Mayhew leads with 24 assists, followed by Jordan with 18, Thomasson with 13 and Andrew Roese with 10.
What: Indiana State High School Hockey Association finals
Where: SportONE Parkview Icehouse, 3869 Ice Way, Fort Wayne
Class A: Summit City vs. Homestead, 11 a.m.
Class 2A: Columbus Icemen vs. Leo, 1:30 p.m.
Class 3A: Crown Point vs. Hamilton Southeastern A, 4 p.m.
Class 4A: Central Indiana vs. Culver A, 6:30 p.m.