Five AHSHA state champs crowned in action-packed weekend at Ice Den Scottsdale
The second weekend in February brought the top high school teams in Arizona to the Ice Den Scottsdale for the AHSHA state championships.
Teams in five divisions claimed state championships, including Pinnacle, which won the Division 1 state title for the third straight year.
Pinnacle will now gear up to head to the USA Hockey National High School Championships, which will be held March 28-April 1 in Cleveland, Ohio.
The Pioneers defeated O’Connor 4-2 on the strength of goals from Justin Sturm, Logan Hawley, Braxton Nohr and Connor Ziegler. Goaltender Austin Schwab made 22 stops between the pipes.
Bryce Marcil stopped 44 shots for the Eagles and was named the game’s MVP.
Nicolas Coppola and Kyle Dodson scored for O’Connor.
“We have been very fortunate these past three years,” said Pinnacle head coach Glenn Karlson. “In addition to that, the size of our program helps us develop younger players at the right levels so they have success when they are ready to fill in for the outgoing players. So far, it seems to be working. To show our depth, after the first championship, we graduated 12 seniors, last year 11 seniors and this year will be 14 seniors from D1 alone.
“This year’s team had to deal with living up to the level of expectations of the past two teams, which added more outside pressure. As a coaching staff, we had to be aware of this and worked on minimizing the noise.”
Karlson noted that the Pinnacle depth was the ultimate difference-maker in winning the championship.
“We had four lines this season and every player brought something special at crucial times of the season,” Karlson said. “In the past, we had to lean on more of our individual skill versus this year where we were deeper at every position and saw goal production from many different players. Throughout the season, we had injuries or players missing but we were able to keep pushing forward. Best example of this was in the semifinals, after almost three weeks without playing a game, we faced Desert Vista without our starting senior goalie and a top forward. With one of our sophomore goalies in net, we scored seven goals from seven different players and only let one in on 14 shots.”
Next up, Cleveland.
“We will take a few weeks off, then we will start practicing late February and ramping up until we go,” said Karlson. “We will focus on team play and line chemistry. The trick is keeping the boys game-ready and practicing at game-level effort.”
In the Division 2A final, Notre Dame Prep edged Pinnacle 2-1.
Game MVP Jonah Geiger scored both goals for the champs, while George Serbin finished with 26 saves in goal.
“Two moments gave me a feeling that this team had the resolve to make a run in the playoffs,” said Notre Dame Prep head coach Zac Fryer. “First, we traveled to Anaheim as a team to play in a Thanksgiving tournament. Although we lost in overtime in the semifinal game, the trip seemed to bring us closer together. Roles on the team started to take shape, we played hard against good competition and spent quality time together with players and their families over Thanksgiving.
“Second, we had a weekend in which many of our players were out of town with travel hockey games and with a very short bench, the Basha Perry team took it to us, beating us 16-0. We played them a few weeks later and were not at full strength but fought back from a three-goal deficit to win 5-4. At the time it was Basha’s first loss of the season and they looked to be unstoppable. We were able to forget the bad loss and came out and won a game that proved we could match up with anyone in the league.”
For Pinnacle, Nicholas Slayton scored, and Nick Layman made 16 saves in goal.
“The NDP program has grown over the past five years,” noted Fryer. “Ultimately, it is the players that are passionate about representing their school and the ever-growing tradition at NDP. The hockey program has evolved, and we have put the program out there beyond just playing in Arizona. The program offers a great brand of hockey and ties into the players’ preparation for life after high school. It is special to be a part of the program and the hockey tradition continues to evolve and strengthen.”
The D2B game was another tight game, with Campo Verde edging Mesquite 2-1.
Gavin Saydyk and Austin Campbell tallied goals for the Coyotes, and Jakob Membrila turned aside 24 shots.
Game MVP honors went to Mesquite’s Zackary Klennert.
Matthew Patterson scored for the Wildcats, while Matthew Diamond made 30 stops between the pipes.
“This was my first year coaching the Campo Verde team,” said Coyotes coach Chris Rees. “I have been fortunate enough to coach teams that won championships from house to travel, but this high school season was something special. I could tell after a few practices that we had a great team. However, it only took one game to know this team was going to make a run for the state championship. Watching the camaraderie off the ice and the chemistry on the ice was my favorite part of this season. We are losing amazing seniors this year that were a huge part of the championship. Taking their place is a talented young group of kids I can’t wait to help condition into the next state champions.”
Like the others, the D3 game was close as well, with Desert Vista taking a 3-2 win over the Tucson High School Roadrunners.
Nathaniel Lamp scored twice and captured the game MVP award for the Thunder. Cole Farrell added a goal and Desert Vista also got 26 saves from goaltender Christopher Walgren.
Koryn Kaczynski and Alexander Perger scored for Tucson, while Maxwell Edlund made 15 saves.
Desert Vista head coach Chris Sehring said he was elated to win a championship in his first season behind the bench.
“It became clear to me almost immediately what a special program this is,” said Sehring. “The level of knowledge and commitment of our coaches and staff, the character, talent and dedication of our players and the support of our families made this an unforgettable season for me. About mid-season I think was when I first saw the makings of a championship team.
“As the season progressed, we really showed our resilience as we had several players out on injury. Because the group came together, rather than give up, the team persisted and kept on succeeding. That is just the character of this group as we still had several players out in the finals and we still prevailed. I attribute that to the team understanding that we are more than just one player and that we all have to work together to succeed.”
The JV final saw Pinnacle win its second championship of the weekend, knocking off Desert Vista 4-2.
Patrick Marsiglia was the game MVP with his hat trick for the Pioneers. Carter Diaz also scored and Kade Burchowycz posted 21 saves in net.
“We end our summer sessions with a grueling two-day tryout session in Flagstaff each year,” said Pinnacle coach Mark Murawski. “At the end, I knew who would be on the team and felt we had our work cut out for us. We had two juniors, four sophomores, and the rest freshmen. Then after four games, we outscored our opponents 21-6. Players like Patrick Marsiglia, Vince Atwell and Luke Brodsky started clicking and playing better than we had seen in tryouts. Alyssa Ihling, Aly Norling and Emily Marcolini weren’t afraid to battle the bigger boys on the other teams and our goaltenders, Kade Burchowycz and Andre Hammonds, were keeping us in games and giving the team confidence.
“But that wasn’t when I got the feeling we’d win the state title. We got overconfident and suffered a 3-2 loss to Brophy. That’s when I knew this team was special because they didn’t like that at all. It had nothing to do with us coaches. They joined together and decided to win and win together.”
Ryan Ensley and Ajay Mahant scored for Desert Vista, and Dane Clark finished with 17 saves in goal.
“What do I like most about this team? I can sum that up with what happened in the locker room before the third period in the championship game,” said Murawski. “After I spoke about how to work in the final period, Patrick (Marsiglia) got the group together and said, ‘Family, on three! 1, 2, 3, family!’ They shouted, but not the typical Pinnacle shout. This group came together after the Brophy loss and held the rope for each other, striving to make their teammates better. Guys like Preston Frost, who started playing only a year before, was contributing. Cale Aronoff, Kyle Thompson, Tyler Murawski and Jax Almodovar toughened up on defense. Guys like Jacob Parrott, Carter Diaz and Aaron Payne were unexpectedly putting pucks in the net. All led by our captain Dillon Scheur.
“The sense of doing this together, building friendships, and having fun were the staple of our success this year.”
— Matt Mackinder
(March 19, 2019)