When Isaac Coy took over as the head coach of the Columbus Icemen hockey team this season, he set a couple of pretty lofty goals for his team.
One was to make it to the Indiana State High School Hockey Association title game at the highest level. The other was to post the highest team grade-point average in the state.
The Icemen are two for two.
On Saturday evening, Columbus will face off against Carmel Gold in the Class 4A state championship game at Indiana Farmers Coliseum in Indianapolis.
Recently, the Icemen also received the Henry G. Schallert Award as the top academic team in the state, having turned in an unweighted team GPA of 3.584.
Seniors Jarod Buchta, Luke Fry and Samm Hack were all named to the state’s All-Academic team.
“From day one, we emphasized student before athlete, and that was one of our goals for the season, to be the top academic team,” Coy said. “We kept that up front the whole season; we really pushed hard for it.”
Having already laid claim to that title, the Icemen (32-9-3) will try to add a state championship to it this weekend. This is Columbus’ third straight year making it to the season’s final day, and the team is hoping to finish off with a victory for the first time.
Two years ago, the Icemen fell to Culver Academy in the 5A championship. Last winter, it was Penn that knocked off Columbus in the 3A final.
This season, the ISHSHA’s first since going from five divisions to four in the postseason, the Icemen earned a spot in the top division tournament by finishing fifth among the 32 teams during the regular season.
Last weekend, during the round-robin portion of the tourney, Columbus opened with a 4-0 victory against second-seeded Fort Wayne Carroll. Jordan Kelley scored a pair of goals and Fry stopped all 28 shots that he faced.
The Icemen fell to Carmel Gold on Saturday before rebounding with a 4-2 victory against Culver Academy on Sunday. Mark Mayhew tallied a hat trick to lead the way, with Fry making 54 saves at the other end.
As the only team besides Carmel Gold to pick up two wins in regulation, the Icemen advanced to the championship game, where they’ll have a chance to take down their nemesis.
Columbus already has faced the Icehounds four times this winter. Each team defended its home ice during the regular season, but Carmel has followed with back-to-back victories during the Hoosier Championship division tournament and the state round robin.
According to Coy, the Icemen are out for redemption.
“We have our minds set on bringing Columbus the state title,” he said.
The Icemen feature players from five different area high schools — Columbus East, Columbus North and Hauser as well as Brown County and Indian Creek.
Dustin Rodgers (23 goals, 20 assists) and Noah Carlock (24 goals, 16 assists) head up a balanced team that has gotten more than 20 points apiece from 10 different players this season. The Icemen have totaled 161 goals in 44 games, an average of nearly four per contest, while allowing just 89. Fry has posted eight shutouts.
Coy said that he wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from the team heading into his first season.
“We knew we had a good base of players, and we had high hopes to compete at the highest level,” he said.
So far, the Icemen have managed to do that both on and off the ice.
Now there’s just one piece of business left to take care of.
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ISHSHA Class 4A championship
Columbus Icemen vs. Carmel Gold Icehounds
When: 6:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Indiana Farmers Coliseum, Indianapolis
Tickets: $7 (good for all four games); children 2 and younger free