Although Wyandotte Roosevelt didn’t serve as the host, it had chance to win a tournament championship on its home ice this week.
The Bears got off on the right foot with a big win over Allen Park in the semifinals on Tuesday. One night later, back at Yack Arena, they captured the title with a 5-0 victory against Christmas Tournament host Riverview Gabriel Richard.
Currently, Roosevelt (7-4) and the Pioneers (3-9) both use Yack Arena as their home rink.
Mario Steffin had a hat trick in the victory, while Jonathan Wester and Andrew Burke each scored once in what was the Bears’ fifth consecutive win. Also, the team has only given up five total goals during that stretch.
“We’ve been playing better and the kids are focusing on defense,” said Roosevelt Coach Mike Quint. “I think it’s showing on the scoreboard…It’s a nice win for us.”
Steffin currently leads the Bears goals with 12 after having played defense last season.
“We knew he could do it and we were pretty heavy on the back end and kind of light on the front end, so he offered to go up,” Quint said.
Roosevelt goaltender Jack Blackledge had 17 saves in the victory on Wednesday and stopped 37 of the 38 shots he saw in the tournament.
Richard netminder Nolan Kopytko turned away 25 of the 30 Roosevelt shots he faced.
With less than a minute left in the first period, it looked like the teams would go into first intermission in a scoreless tie.
However, Steffin was able to find the back of the net with only 37 seconds remaining in the period, assisted by Adam Groat.
Steffin struck again about halfway through the second period and put his team up 2-0. Burke and Joey Patterson both picked up an assist.
Roughly two minutes later, Wester cashed in a rebound, in front of the Pioneers’ goal, and gave his squad a 3-0 advantage. Andrew DeSana and Jeff Johnson were both credited with an assist.
The game’s first penalty didn’t come until the 4:29 mark of the second period, but from that point there were a total of five called before the second intermission, including a game disqualification.
Ultimately the penalties led to a one-man advantage for Richard at the outset of the third period. Desperate to get on the board, the Pioneers pulled Kopytko for another attacker during the power play.
Unfortunately for Richard, the plan backfired when Steffin sent the puck into the empty net. It gave the Bears a commanding 4-0 lead and capped off his hat trick.
Soon after, Burke netted a goal during a Roosevelt power play and with it wrapped up the scoring for the night. He was assisted by both Bailey Byrd and Andrew DeSana.
Down the stretch the Pioneers applied quite a bit of pressure, but couldn’t get one by Blackledge and the shutout held up.
Despite the loss for Richard, and its 3-9 record this winter, the team has played strong, including a pair of shutout victories in Alpena and overtime defeats against Liggett and Country Day.
“I’m very happy with their attitude, which is most important,” said Pioneers Coach Rick DeSana. “Because obviously life’s not going to go your way, so they’re going to learn their lessons and life isn’t going our way right now and we’ve got to battle through it and we’ve got to be tough.”
Richard and the Bears are set to play again on Jan. 4 at Yack Arena in their second Metro League East meeting of the season.