Follow The Republic:
The Columbus Icemen won two tough, grueling 1-0 games against Carmel Gold last weekend to win the Hoosier High School Hockey Association Year End Tournament.
Now, the Icemen will have to do it again.
Third-seeded Columbus will play second-seeded Carmel for the third time in a span of nine days Saturday when the teams meet in the Class 5A state tournament’s pool play opener. The game is scheduled for 1:45 p.m. at The Forum at Fishers.
“It’s tough to beat anybody three times in a row, let alone Carmel,” Icemen coach Rich Gordon said. “Carmel is a very well-coached, very good team, very quality organization. Obviously, we’re confident that it’s something we can do, but it will be tough.”
Following the Carmel game, Columbus (37-12-4) will have to come back at 8:45 p.m. Saturday against top-seeded Culver. The Icemen will finish pool play at 2:15 p.m. Sunday against South Bend St. Joseph. Those games also will be at The Forum.
The top two teams from pool play will meet for the state championship next weekend at Notre Dame.
“We’ve beat Carmel three times, so hopefully it gives us confidence to beat Carmel, and hopefully, we’ll pull through on Culver,” said sophomore defenseman Ryan Cesarski, who scored the winning goal in Sunday’s title-game victory. “We know what to expect, so we should be ready.”
The Icemen won, lost and tied in three regular-season games with Carmel before knocking off the Icehounds twice last weekend. Also in the regular season, Columbus beat South Bend St. Joseph and lost twice to Culver.
Culver beat the Icemen in last year’s 5A championship game.
“We haven’t beaten Culver, but I think our chances are pretty good at making it through,” junior goalie Braden Phelps said.
Phelps posted 29 saves, and junior Austin Huffer scored the goal in the win against Carmel in last week’s winners’ bracket final. After Carmel came back through the losers’ bracket to face the Icemen again, Phelps turned back the Icehounds with 35 saves Sunday.
“Your best defender on your team has to be your goalie, and Braden Phelps was just that,” Gordon said. “But it was a total team defensive effort.”
“We seem to all be clicking really well,” Phelps said. “It’s the best I think we’ve played in a long time. Overall, our defense and offense just kind of came together, and we were able to come out with two wins.”
The Icemen won two games the previous weekend to open the Hoosier High School Hockey Association Year End Tournament. The tourney title was their first league playoff championship since 1998.
“It was a great team effort to win four games over two weekends against three quality teams,” Gordon said. “These guys should really, really be proud of themselves, of what they accomplished.”
Think your friends should see this? Share it with them!
All content copyright ©2013 The Republic, a division of Home News Enterprises unless otherwise noted.