FORT WAYNE — The Columbus Icemen dominated the action from the opening face-off and rolled to an impressive 4-0 win against Leo to claim the ISHSHA Class 2A state championship Saturday in Fort Wayne.
The Icemen scored their first goal just over five minutes into the game then added two more in the second period to take a commanding 3-0 lead. It was exactly the type of start in which coach Isaac Coy was hoping.
“We’ve got a really young team, and the message from the very get-go was to come out and set the tone,” Coy said.
“Whatever shift is your first shift, go as hard as you can go, and that should dictate the rest of the game. And I tell you what, our boys came out and really set the tone.”
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Columbus, the top seed in the tournament, wasted little time attacking the Leo defense and broke through quickly when senior captain Matt Jordan deflected a pass from fellow senior captain Darrien Nickerson past the goalie for a quick 1-0 lead.
As it turned out, it would be the only goal the Icemen would need. Other than one sequence where Leo got five looks at the net in the matter of 20 seconds, the Columbus defense kept the Lions away from the net throughout the first period.
“The first couple of shifts came out strong and (Leo) wasn’t expecting it, I don’t think,” junior forward Mark Mayhew said. “We put them on their heels.”
Columbus (19-19-4) put the game away in the second period, despite getting outshot 15-11 over that span. Mayhew scored the Icemen’s second goal, a beautiful breakaway at the 12:36 mark, and junior Sam Thomasson added a third marker with 1:55 to go with a slap shot from the left side.
Mayhew then capped the scoring early in the fourth with a backhanded shot just in front of the goal on a power play for his second of the game.
The four goals was more than enough for Columbus goalie Cam Stattenfield and his defense. A week after the freshman stoned Fort Wayne Dwenger in a shootout to send the Icemen to the championship game, he stopped 16 shots Saturday while pitching the shutout.
“I’ve got to give a big thanks to my defense just for deflecting a lot of shots for me.” Stattenfield said. “I don’t think I would be where I am right now without them.”
“Cam has played a critical role for us all season, especially in shootouts,” Coy said. “We owed it to Cam for getting us here in the first place after that amazing shootout performance. He definitely didn’t disappoint today. I look forward to another three solid years from him.”
Mayhew’s final goal highlighted a third period in which Columbus slammed the door on Leo, outshooting the Lions 16-2 in that stretch. Overall, the Icemen held a 37-26 advantage in shots and had four power play chances to just one for Leo (21-16-2).
The state championship was the fifth for Columbus, which previously won titles in 1994, 1997, 2002 and 2008. Coy and goalie coach Brian McCormick both played on that 2002 team, a memory that brought a smile to the coach’s face.
“It’s a lot of fun. It comes full circle,” Coy said.
With a young team, Columbus seems poised for another strong season next year. But for now, the players are content to bask in the glory of winning this crown.
“It’s pretty awesome. We came out and got the dub. It’s exciting,” Mayhew said. “I don’t even know what to think.”
“I don’t believe it. I don’t know if I’ll ever believe it,” Stattenfield said. “It’s pretty exciting.”