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Marauders Outmuscle Rams, Cruise to CHSAA State Hockey Title

For a school like St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute, fielding a winning hockey team is a near-yearly tradition.

That doesn’t make this year’s success feel any less sweet though.

Saturday’s 9-1 romp over the Fordham Prep Rams (Bronx, NY) was the 12th state championship for the Marauders since 2003.

“This is awesome, and the feeling never gets old,” Marauders coach Richard Crozier said. “You put so much time and effort into this team over the course of a year – we had like 50-something practices this year – and this isn’t easy. The score today may say otherwise, but every season is a grind. All the hard work pays off eventually, and we’re so fortunate to have had the success we’ve had over the years.”

Senior captain Jack Gilbert agreed.

“It’s really incredible to think of,” Gilbert said. “This is my first title and my brother Dennis won two state championships of his own here, so to be able to follow in the footsteps of all the great teams we’ve had here is awesome. Coach Crozier runs a good program here too, and everything we do here reflects on what he’s done not just for us players, but really for the rest of the program too.”

From the start, both squads came out of the gate willing to wage war on one another. Physical play dominated most of the first period, setting the tone right off the bat.

“That first period was our best period of the year,” Crozier said. “There’s no doubt or question about it. We came out flying…they had a younger goalie playing and we thought that if we got to him early the situation would work out in our favor.

“We wanted to be physical, get pucks to the net and not give them any room to attack us. I thought our defense was fantastic today and was super-aggressive. (Fordham) really couldn’t get anything going against us.”

Kellen Pulera, named the game’s Most Valuable Player, broke open the floodgates with a power play goal on a rebound off of Rams goaltender Matteo Vitale with 4:46 left in the first stanza of play. Within the next three minutes and 33 seconds, Kyle Schneider – whose goal came just 14 seconds later – Pulera, and Matthew Orlowski each lit the lamp to increase the Marauders’ lead to 4-0.

“That first period was crazy,” Pulera said. “It was unbelievable for the team, and it was nuts. There was no looking back from there either. We know that, once we push that gas pedal down early on, the game is ours. That’s exactly what happened.”

St. Joe’s dominance continued in the second period, as Niko Pavicich, Will Redding, and Matthew Barrali each scored to give the Marauders a 7-0 lead and a shot advantage of 30-9 entering the third period. Orlowski and Barrali each notched their second tallies of the game in the third to finish off the scoring for the Marauders.

Nicholas Zerafa found the scoresheet late in the third period for the Rams’ only goal of the contest.

The game itself may have come easy to the Marauders, but the season didn’t. According to Crozier, the team faced many obstacles throughout the 2018-19 season, but was still able to overcome all of them en route to the title.

“First and foremost, if you want to have success you always have to buy into being a team,” Crozier said. “For us, it’s tough to do that. Any one of these guys could be on the first line at their public high schools. Here we ask a lot of great hockey players to fill a role, and you’re not always going to put up a ton of points. Sometimes you have to do the dirty work, and that’s something that I’m really proud of us being able to do.”

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