Thursday March 21, 2013
The South Burlington boys hockey team, who has spent the better part of the winter tearing through opponents in the Metro League, capped off their tremendous season with a championship victory Wednesday, March 14th, 4-2 over the CVU Redhawks. Eric Craig and Connor O’Toole, who have both played a fundamental role in South Burlington’s offense this season, put South Burlington up early, with both players netting goals in the championship matchup. Coach Sean Jones was quick to recognize his team’s offensive efforts, but quickly returned the focus to hockey fundamentals, which have been the cornerstone for this South Burlington team throughout their storied season. “The Finals was our truest test of the season.” said Jones “CVU had a game plan that included throwing our game back in our face. They were quick, possessed the puck well, and developed quality chances through up tempo play. Their approach (to the Championship) was the game-plan that we used to be successful all season. It’s a testament to our determination how well we adjusted our play and focused on working our hardest defensively, while making the most of our offensive opportunities.”
The Rebels were matched in a 2-2 tie with the Redhawks midway through the third period. In one of the most critical situations of the season, and with a championship victory hanging in the balance, South Burlington’s Matt Baechle fired a score for his team with just over five minutes to go to give the edge back to the Rebels. Baechle also assisted teammate Gabe Simpatico, who tacked on an insurance goal with thirty seconds left to seal the win for South Burlington.
Without taking anything away from South Burlington’s blistering offensive attack, it was an aggressive defensive performance that shut down CVU. Jones shone a light on his defense and the emergent role of goalie David Streeter in the 2012-13 season. “The most underrated aspect of our team is our defensive corp.” said Jones. “Backboned by seniors Bernie Thibeault, Mike Cunavelis, and Matt Fisher, our defensive unit allowed an average of fifteen shots a game. They were also critical in initiating our offensive attack, which averaged five goals a game.” As far as the play of Streeter, Jones has seen the junior’s performance only get better throughout his inaugural season in the net for South Burlington, peaking with highlight-reel defensive performances in the semi-final and final contests. “He really stepped up in the finals and semi-finals as our anchor.” said Jones. “We relied (at times too much) for Streeter to bail us out of difficult situations with critical saves.”
Wednesday’s victory is not only a Cinderella-ending to a stunning season, but erases the aftertaste of last year’s quarterfinal loss for then-second-seeded South Burlington. With the victory, the Rebels end their season at a 21-2 record and capture their first hockey championship for South Burlington since 1994.
Congratulations to head coach Sean Jones and the South Burlington boys hockey team on an outstanding season and a hard-fought and well-deserved championship victory!
SOURCE: Peter Culkin