Tigers win state hockey championship, end CBC’s 132-game winning streak

By STEPHEN GLOVER

For the past 132 games, the CBC hockey team carried an aura that’s intimidated some of the best high school hockey teams in the Midwest.

But that came to an end last week when the Oakville hockey team handed the Cadets a 3-2 loss in the championship game of the Mid-States High School Club Ice Hockey Association’s Challenge Cup Tournament.

Oakville head coach Ben Lamperti knew that for his Tigers to win against CBC, the battle would have to be won inside their heads as well as on the ice.

“Half the battle was believing that we could do it,” Lamperti told the Call. “A lot of teams are beat before they get onto the ice because they say to themselves that: ‘Oh it’s CBC and we can’t beat them.”’

The Tigers jumped out to a 1-0 lead March 8 when junior forward Ryan Kretzer scored with 14:37 left to play in the first period. Senior forward Tim Gardner and junior forward Michael Wirthlin received the assists on Kretzer’s goal.

“Ryan’s the best overall player in the league,” Lamperti said. “For us, he did everything from killing penalties to playing the point.”

Oakville was far from taking down the Cadets just yet, as CBC’s Brian Sheehan tied the game at 1-1 with 5:43 left in the first period. Grant Gorczyca gave CBC a 2-1 lead with 14:29 left in the second period, and thoughts of last year’s 5-2 rout of the Tigers began to swirl inside the Savvis Center.

But the Tigers had battled with some of the area’s best teams this season, and it was no surprise when Gardner scored Oak-ville’s second goal of the game with 12:31 left to play in the second period. Kretzer and junior defenseman Paul Puglisi received the assist on Gardner’s goal.

“The guys picked their captains and I didn’t disagree with picking Tim one bit because he’s a proven leader,” Lamperti said. “Both off and on the ice, he’s a leader and all-around warrior.”

The Tigers took a 3-2 lead with 7:08 left in the third period as Wirthlin scored his seventh goal of the season that also turned out to be the game-winning goal for Oak-ville. Gardner chalked up his second assist of the evening on Wirthlin’s goal.

“Pound for pound, he’s the toughest kid I’ve seen in the league,” Lamperti said. “Last season he didn’t play on the varsity, but, man, did he prove us wrong this year.”

Oakville goalkeeper Corey Rickermann stopped 29 of 31 shots to chalk up his 14th win of the 2005-2006 season. The junior net-minder finished the season with a record of 14-5-1 and a 1.417 goals-against average.

“In the playoffs, Corey put together the best seven games to give our team the chance to win every night,” Lamperti said. “He made some huge saves in the third period against Chaminade to get us into the final.”

With the Tigers being the first public school to win the Challenge Cup since Parkway South’s win in 1994, Lamperti believes that this year’s Oakville team etched its name in high school hockey history.

“Coming into this season, I told the guys that as long as we improve, we could get back to the championship game,” Lamperti said. “Once we get into the playoffs, we really came together as a team and it took a team to beat CBC. That’s what happened on Wednesday night (March 8).”