CBC meets SLUH in rematch for prep hockey championship in Challenge Cup
By: Warren Mayes
Trying to keep the CBC Cadets out of the Challenge Cup championship game is like trying to sneak sunrise past a rooster.
CBC (24-2-1) faces the St. Louis University High Junior Billikens (24-4-1) for the championship of the Midstates Club Hockey Association’s top postseason tournament at 8 p.m. Monday (March 4) at the Scottrade Center. Before those teams tangle. Duschense will face Wentzville Holt at 5:30 p.m. in the Wickenheiser Cup title game.
The Mid-States Club Hockey Association high school hockey championship games will be televised live on FOX Sports Midwest as well as on AT&T U-verse channel 691, DirecTV 680 and Dish Network 441.
Both games will also be broadcast live through radio stations KFNS-AM 590 and KFLX-AM 1380. The Wickenheiser Cup game will be broadcast on 1380 AM and the Challenge Cup will be on 590 AM. There also is a link to live internet audio through the station’s websit: www.kfns.com.
This year’s game is a rematch from last year. The Cadets defeated the Junior Billikens 3-1 last year. That game was a rematch from the 2009 championship game when CBC topped SLUH 4-2.
Last year’s championship was CBC’s 12th title. It was the eighth crown under Cadets coach John Jost.
Entering the title game Monday, the consistent Cadets have played in the championship game for 13 consecutive years.
By contrast, SLUH has not won a championship.
Jost downplays any kind of pressure on his team in the game. It’s a new team and new season.
“I don’t think we have any more pressure than any other year,” Jost said. “Fourteen players that dressed in last year’s championship game are playing.
“The experience I believe helps in the preparation for the game but once the puck drops its a matter of who is prepared mentally and physically to play. It will be a real battle. We know SLUH is a good team and it will take our best effort to beat them.”
SLUH coach Kevin Fitzpatrick said his team has been on a mission. The Junior Billikens are 7-1 in the playoffs entering the final game but there is nothing weighing down the squad.
“I wouldn’t call it pressure but incentive,” Fitzpatrick said. “The boys really wanted to get back to the finals and win it before they graduate this year. We have 10 boys back from last year. The experience will help us all out as the boys will know what to expect playing in the big arena and crowd and can pass it on to the other boys.”
The memory of last year’s matchup is still fresh for both teams.
“There’s no question both teams remember last year and how tough of a game it was,” Jost said. “We have a lot of new faces so not everyone on our team has played in a game of this magnitude. That is the beauty of high school sports.”
For SLUH, Fitzpatrick noted last year is in the record books.
“Our focus has been taking care of the things that we control and beating the teams we had to play,” Fitzpatrick said. “It didn’t matter to us who we played as long as we continued to win.”
The teams have met twice this season and split the games. SLUH beat CBC in late November 2-1 and Cadets beat Junior Billikens 4-1 in late January.
The Cadets learned lessons in the those games they hope to use in the final contest.
“We learned after our loss to SLUH how hard you have to work to beat them,” Jost said. “I think in the game we won we were much better. We will need that effort again on Monday night to have a chance.”
For the Junior Billikens, Fitzpatrick said those games are ancient history.
“You can forget about the regular season and what happened then,” Fitzpatrick said. “It boils down to winner take all in one game on Monday night.”
The strength of CBC, Jost said, is the team’s balance.
“It starts in goal and on defense,” Jost said. “If we play a good game defensively, the offense will come. Every player will need to contribute in some way. That is what has happened all year which helped us get back to this game so will be no different.”
The Junior Billikens are a strong club, too.
“We are a puck possession team with a lot of speed,” Fitzpatrick said. “Speed is our key but most importantly we have come together as a team. Our motto is 25 guys going in one direction and it is working for us.
“We have to believe in each other and play as one. We need to minimize our mistakes, stay out of the penalty box and get shots on net. Play our game which is speed and puck movement.”
Jost said everyone is ready for the game.
“I think the entire CBC community is excited,” Jost said. “We hear from tons of alumni that will be down at the game or watching live on TV. The game will be a battle of two very good teams that are passionate about there programs. It will be a heck of a game.”
Fitzpatrick said his boys are happy to be playing one more game.
“We are all very grateful to be in the finals and of course very excited,” Fitzpatrick said. “I have a special feeling about this group of boys.”