Tonawanda News — TOWN OF TONAWANDA — At its first hockey practice back in November, the St. Joe’s hockey team met at center ice to embark on its 2013-14 Western New York Federation hockey season.
After a brief introduction, there was a simple goal presented that resonated throughout the rink: to win another state championship.
But after losing their captain to a broken collarbone in the first game of the season and losing three of their first four games, the Marauders’ chances of reaching the top of the mountain looked bleak.
St. Joe’s overall record took a hit mid-way through January.
“We were 6-10,” said Marauders coach Rich Crozier. “Our goal, after a rocky start and losing some key players, was to still to win a state championship.”
However, the blue-collared style of play that has been the team’s mantra for quite some time started to come full circle. That simple goal that was agreed upon in November was now an expectation; it was state championship or bust.
The Marauders capped off an impressive post-season run with a 2-1 victory over St. Anthony’s on March 1 — accomplishing their goal.
It was the program’s ninth state championship in 12 years and its third in four years in the Crozier era.
“I’m incredibly blessed having the opportunity to lead such a successful program like St. Joe’s,” Crozier said. “From the outside, people might say, ‘It’s St. Joe’s they are expected to win, or ‘must be easy to coach such a strong program year in and year out.’ But I can tell you each year brings on its own challenges. Nothing in life is going to come that easy. I really feel that this year’s team proved that.”
Competition was not easy leading up to the Marauders’ state championship matchup, as they had to exercise their past demons and defeat a couple teams that had their number on the year.