And just like that, the high school hockey career is over.
So many high school players dream of being the Boys of March.” And, march is certainly what this group of boys who wear “blueberry blue” did in the playoffs.
Many of you may not remember that we had a major snow storm in West Michigan on March 1, and that same day happened to be the start of the state hockey playoffs. Our team was forced to play a day later because of the storm, which ultimately meant we had to play six hockey games in a span of ten days. With such a crazy schedule, my son lost 15 pounds in those ten days, and he didn’t have any extra weight to lose!
The fun began on a Wednesday evening when the boys defeated East Grand Rapids by a score of 4-2. That first game set the tone for the remaining games because last year the season ended when East Grand Rapids defeated us. We came ready to play this year.
The next night we beat Kenowa Hills 8-0 to end their chances of advancing. We then marched on to the regional finals against Forest Hills Central and played in front of a sold out crowd at the Eagles Ice Center. Fans were told to get to the rink two hours early to make sure they had a seat! Both teams played their hearts out, and in the third overtime, my son’s team sniped the puck past their goalie to win the game 4-3. We were regional champs and ready to march on to the state quarter finals at Michigan State’s Munn Ice Center.
Our boys showed no Mercy on number-one ranked Saginaw Heritage and defeated them 6-1 to advance to the state semi finals. The boys in blueberry blue played a beautiful game that night—they were simply a joy to watch. This huge win gave all the parents a big sigh of relief, and I think my blood pressure even stayed down for a while. I believe just about every high school hockey player’s dream is to be one of the “Final Four” to play at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Michigan, and our boys had just realized that dream.
Next up was the state semi final game against Chelsea. To say that Chelsea’s goalie was a brick wall during that game is an understatement; he deflected shot after shot after shot. As always, our boys didn’t give up, and after being down 0-2 in the first period, they battled back in regular time to tie the game 2-2. Once again, we went into overtime and were victorious with a final score of 3-2. When I looked up at the clock and scoreboard, the shots on goal were 53 for us and 24 for them. What a game!
And, finally, we were playing in the finals against Hancock, a tough team from the Upper Peninsula. In regular season standings, they were ranked fourth, and we were ranked sixth, so we knew it would be a great game. The boys got off to a rough start and found themselves down 0-3 after the first period. We had never been down by more than two goals in any game, so the parents knew it would be hard to recover. Again, our team came back at full speed and scored two goals to make it 2-3 with less than two minutes left in the game. My son had told me they had practiced a “6 on 5.” For you non-hockey players, that means you pull your goalie and add an extra attacker. I also remember him saying to me last week, “I hope it doesn’t come to that.”
Well, it did, and there it was—an empty net for them. We didn’t lose; we simply ran out of time and ended with a final score of 2-4. It was heartbreaking to lose to the team that definitely had “UP POWER,” the words their team and fans kept chanting throughout the entire game.
And so it ended for the boys in blueberry blue. They weren’t state champions but runners up instead. They made it to the final game and came up just a little short. I hope in the years to come the bitterness of the loss fades and they remember how they were the “Boys of March” their senior year. I also hope they know how proud they made all of the parents as we watched them play during that amazing ten day hockey marathon!