Pinnacle finishes wild ’18-19 season with Nationals run
For the third straight year, Pinnacle High School advanced to the USA Hockey High School National Championships, and this season, made it to the quarterfinals before bowing out.
Pioneers coach Glenn Karlson said making it to Nationals was a priority at the start of the season and getting to Cleveland last month made for some “really good hockey.”
“The expectation was to make the bracket round at Nationals, or as we put it, ‘to play on Sunday,’” said Karlson. “Knowing how hard it is to get to Nationals and make it out of pool play, we realized this was a lofty goal but as the season progressed and we witnessed the growth of this team, the goal didn’t seem out of reach.”
After getting through pool play, Pinnacle was knocked out in the quarterfinals by Bayard Rustin (Pa.) High School, 6-5 in overtime on a power-play goal.
Bayard Rustin scored four power-play goals and one shorthanded goal, while Pinnacle scored one power-play goal and four even-strength goals.
“The boys did a good job weathering the ups and downs and the adversity of losing arguably one of our top defensemen and captain (Justin Sturm) early in the second to an unfortunate call,” Karlson said. “The boys were still able to keep composure enough to take a lead into the third. Losing was a very disheartening feeling felt by all players and staff knowing how hard all the boys had worked. We truly believed this team could have made it to the finals.”
The players reflected on the season as well, saying that the national tournament was the goal all season long.
“As a captain, I see this team as a brotherhood,” said senior forward Max Cocreham. “We all are super-close and will continue to be outside of hockey as well. We came together as a team and accomplished some pretty cool things. Going to Nationals three years in a row is a pretty cool experience and I feel like each year, we got better as a team.”
“The season as a whole went well for everyone involved and there was a feeling of success throughout the season,” added Sturm. “I will remember how all of the boys interacted and created a bond in such a short time. We had kids from all social circles, and we came together and bonded as one. The overall brotherhood is nothing that can be truly described. It’s a special feeling.”
Senior defenseman Alex Peters noted that Pinnacle can be considered as a top high school program not only in Arizona, but in the country.
“I definitely think that Pinnacle is making a mark on the national stage as a powerhouse team,” Peters said. “Not only have we been to Nationals in three consecutive seasons, but we have been really successful making the quarterfinals twice. This year, I think we showed that we could more than compete with any team we faced, and it will stay that way in the future.”
Logan Derryberry, who will return for his senior season next year on the blue line, has aspirations to make it four state titles in a row and four Nationals berths in a row.
“Looking back at this season, it was one like no other season,” he said. “We had a team that consisted of four strong lines, unlike any other AHSHA team. All of our lines showed up ready to win what was in front of them and ready for what was thrown at them.”
Moving forward, Karlson thinks Pinnacle will continue to be a force.
“We will keep doing what we do in developing our players because at our core, this is what we believe works,” said Karlson. “If we do that and it all works out, one day we might be able to be called national champions, but until that day happens, we are happy with just being called Pinnacle.”
— Matt Mackinder
(April 29, 2019)