The Victor Blue Devils took advantage of a five-goal explosion in the second and third periods to win the NYSPHSAA Division I State Championship 5-1 over the Niagara-Wheatfield Falcons on Sunday at the HarborCenter.
It’s the first title for the Blue Devils’ program, and it caps off an undefeated season as the team rolled throughout the year with a 24-0-2 record.
“It feels pretty good,” Blue Devils coach Mike Ferreri said. “I’m just so proud of these guys. They bought in from Day One along their parents and the rest of the community. It’s awesome.”
Conversely, it was a bitter pill to swallow for the Falcons, who honored their fallen classmate and fellow student-athlete Mikey Ziegler throughout the weekend and rallied around their late friend. A championship, however, wasn’t meant to be.
“We knew they could come this far,” Falcons coach Rick Wrazin said. “We told them from the start of the year. These guys just bonded, they gave everything every time they were on the ice.
“They’re just a team to be proud of. And we knew they could do it. It was a shame it ended this way.”
At first, things seemed to go the Falcons’ way after taking a 1-0 lead on a goal by Chace Woods five minutes into the second period. Destiny appeared to be on their side.
Then it all fell apart.
A pair of goals by both Ashton Collazo and Sam Lambert – one of Lambert’s tallies came when Falcons goaltender Peyton Siegmann misplayed a loose puck and left a gaping open net – and a power play goal by Josh Albert were part of a series of miscues that lead to the Falcons’ demise.
“We started running around a little bit in our own end, and we got beat on some plays that we don’t typically get beat on,” Wrazin said. “We’ve always been a team that gets a lot of pressure on the puck and force teams to make mistakes. I don’t know if it was the pressure of the game, but I think we held back.
“Not that we didn’t have the effort, but guys were reading instead of pressuring a little more than normal. We just gave them a little too much time today.”
Chayse Ierlan recorded 18 saves to backstop the Blue Devils to victory.
“When you go into a third period with a kid like (Ierlan) in net, you feel pretty good,” Ferreri said. “If my kids grow up to be like Chayse Ierlan, I’ll be a lucky dad.”
Ierlan returned the compliment shortly thereafter.
“It’s good to see a guy like coach Ferreri – who started the program here – get his first championship,” Ierlan said. “He’s been our biggest leader all season, and I couldn’t thank him enough for what he’s done for us as a group.”