Wickenheiser Cup Championship: A Story of Learning from Failure


Coach Getz

The Priory Ravens defeated the Lafayette Lancers 2 to 1 to claim their first Wickenheiser Cup Championship since 2007.  Ryan Lally scored 30 seconds into the game after Noah Stutzer touch-passed a Mason Karpel shot over to Ryan, who buried the chance.  Max Wagener would get the eventual game-winning goal late in the second period breaking a 1 to 1 tie on a Lafayette turnover.  William Azrak would make the 2-1 score stand making 21 saves on 22 shots.  

Legendary coach Herb Brooks once said, “I’m not looking for the best players.  I’m looking for the right ones.”  That was in reference to why he chose the players that would make up the 1980 USA Hockey team that would win gold and later became known as the “Miracle on Ice”.  Now, a local state championship game is far from the magnitude of the Olympic stage, but there is definitely a large amount of truth in the above statement in applying to this Ravens team.  We are not stacked with talent such as CBC or SLUH, and yet these boys were committed to playing a solid team game.  The disappointment of last year’s early exit from the playoffs as the number one seed was not forgotten.  That failure was a powerful motivation to push ourselves this season.  We learned to maximize our talent by playing as a 5-man unit every shift on the ice and became a very difficult team to score on and also a very difficult team to stop from scoring.  We came in waves.  

We knew we could make a solid run this year in the aftermath of a disappointing loss to Westminster before Christmas.  The coaching staff decided to give the boys a hard skate without pucks all practice.  The message was clear, you’re not going to get outworked by other teams.  This was the turning point. We would go on to win 13 games in a row including a 5-game streak (15 periods) without giving up a goal.  The streak was broken in game 2 of the semifinal playoffs against Parkway West.  However, the mini-game that followed to decide who would go onto the championship showed the resiliency this team had.  Giving up an early goal, we tied it up 27 seconds later and would wind up getting the series winning goal with 26.2 seconds remaining in the game.  

The commitment these boys had to each other, the coaching staff, and the game is the type of thing a coach strives for every year, but is reserved for the teams that truly show it.  The discipline these boys had to not only minimize penalties, but to understand the team was larger than personal glory, and is exactly why when the final period of the championship game began, Lafayette had to deal with 6 goalies on the ice and not just one.  

As we delight in our accomplishment, the biggest joy for me is seeing the boys I started coaching as 7th graders leave as champions and the legacy they now leave the younger players to aspire to.