JAMESTOWN – The Red Raiders Hockey Club skated to a state championship Sunday night by beating five teams in three days, including the top-seeded team which required three overtimes to dispose of.
Immediately following Sunday’s title game, a 4-2 win over Royalton Hartland, a jubilant crowd roared as the players celebrated.
For some, it was a bitter sweet moment.
“It’s hard, it’s emotional,”said Head Coach Joe Gerace.”I have five seniors that I’ve been coaching since they were really little and now it’s over.”
Jamestown’s unimaginably difficult path to the title game on Sunday night started with a victory on Friday afternoon over Port Washington, 5-2.
The schedule required double-headers on Saturday and Sunday.
“It’s been a great run,” said Gerace. “We came together really quickly.”
Unlike other high school sports, hockey is not backed by schools, so players must compete in a state-wide league for kids in grades 7-12.
Gerace said his team is comprised of players from seven different schools in two states.
“I even have a kid from Warren,”said Gerace.
Gerace pointed out that Jamestown competes in the mixed division of the WNY High School Hockey Club League.
“Playing in mixed is tougher because you’re playing against teams that have from more than two schools,” said Gerace.
“They (players) love each other, they play for each other, they take a hit for each other,” Gerace said.
Southwestern High School Football sensation Cole Snyder, who scored the eventual game winning goal, was the named game MVP.
“Sports is such a great builder of character”, said Snyder. “That’s what I’ve based my whole life on. I wish everybody played sports.”
Snyder’s goal in the first game propelled his team past New York City based Manhasset in triple overtime.
“I’m happy for the five seniors that are able to go out on top,”said Snyder.
Gerace told WNY News Now that Jamestown Mayor Sam Teresi plans to honor the team at an upcoming city council meeting.
“That’s going to make the kids feel good,” Gerace said.”They worked so hard to get here.”