Rangers title shared by all
By Michael Hoffer
While Saturday’s championship celebration on the ice was limited to less than 30 players and coaches, countless others exulted as well.
In the stands at the Colisee, hundreds of former players, students, parents and fans whooped with joy, shed tears and hugged as Greely hockey finally ascended to the throne.
Others, scattered across the map and who couldn’t attend, waited with bated breath for the result.
It was truly a triumph for a hockey family.
“We had a lot of alumni players here today,” said longtime Greely coach Barry Mothes. “I got some e-mails. A lot of kids came down to the locker room before the game and said hi. I can sense they’re very happy for this particular team. The crowd was so tremendous. It was such a lift to have that many people behind us. It’s a good day for Greely boys’ hockey from the current players to the alumni to the families and the school. I’m happy for everybody.”
Greely had come so close on so many previous occasions, but hadn’t been able to savor the sweet taste of victory.
This year’s squad, likely the finest in program annals, finished the job, but while this championship was about the likes of Brian and Kevin Hart, Brian Allyn, Jesse Shavel, Kyle Selig, Jake Downey and Matt Labbe, it was just as much in tribute to past heroes Andrew Bisbing, Jesse and Sam Blais, Billy Bolduc, Drew Bowden, Leland Copenhagen, Ben Daigle, Jeff Fannon, Pat Fogg, Tyler King, Harrison and Sam Sheldon, and Nick Spaulding.
And so many others.
“We parents of former players feel kind of like former Red Sox players and families felt after Boston finally won a world championship after an 86-year drought back in 2004,” said Peter Blais, the father of Jesse and Sam Blais. “Former Greely players and parents should take pride in knowing they contributed to this title with their hard work and support along the way.”
That support of those who came before wasn’t lost on this current crop.
“We have a great fan base,” said Kevin Hart. “To be the senior class to win it, feels great. It’s unbelievable. The whole town’s so excited to finally win it. It’s huge.”
“I’ve watched games for years,” added Brian Hart. “I went to the game two years ago when they lost (a 4-3 overtime setback to Brewer in the state final). That was tough for everybody. This is huge. The kids are so psyched.”
The Greely hockey family celebrated well into the night Saturday and will cherish this first championship for decades.
A unique group finally has its crown.
“I’m very, very happy that there will come a time soon where there will be a banner up in the gymnasium,” Mothes said. “That’s something the players can always come back and see. The players will be able to remember this the rest of their lives. We can enjoy those feelings down the road. In the here and now, I’m just happy for them. I feel like I’ve had other championship teams too who were no less great teams, they just didn’t win the state championship. These guys did it. It’s a sweet thing.”
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
The 2008-09 Class B state champion Greely Rangers boys’ hockey team. (Brandon McKenney photo)