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High School Ice Hockey:
Cherokee are Champions in an Emotional Filled Night

Wednesday, March 9, 2005

By Mike Costantino
SJSports Staff Writer

Led by their top line of Patrick McMahon, Lou Sarcone and Justin Kinniry, Cherokee skated to an easy 6-1 win over Washington Township and won its second title in four years. With the familiar #23 jersey worn by Jeff Burd, hanging behind their bench, this emotionally driven group of young men, with one goal in mind, got stronger with each game. Coach Rumbus prior to the game told his players that this was the last year that Jeff's name could go on the trophy, but to go out and also play for each other. Cherokee goalie Bobby Casolaro played a strong game in nets, while the top line accounted for eight points, with McMahon and Kinniry scoring two goals each.

Dan Altieri opened the scoring eight minutes into the period as he lifted the puck under the crossbar with Matt Loprete getting the assist. Casolaro made key save against Fred Brewer and Kyle Stokes to keep Township off the board. Township was on the power play in the final minutes of the period, but Loprete stole the puck at the right circle and from his knees found Zach Sawyer in the slot and his shot beat Matt Corvino for a 2-0 lead. The shorthanded goal came with seven seconds left and was a backbreaker. The Cherokee lead grew to 3-0 as McMahon stole the puck at the blue line and wrested a shot into the net. Just less than two minutes later Kinniry put home a rebound of a shot by Sarcone and the lead was 4-0. Township finally broke through as Rob Hniedziejko connected on the power play to creep to within 4-1.

Cherokee put the game away as McMahon and Kinniry added goals early in the third period to put the game out of reach at 6-1. Lou Sarcone, who played inspired hockey throughout the playoffs and was an emotional leader as well as a close friend of Jeff’s said “It feels great to win the championship again, we won my freshman year, but it makes it sweeter because Township was the last team Jeff played against”.

Notes: Coach Rumbus we believe is the first person, whose name will appear on the trophy for the fifth time, having been an assistant coach with Eastern during their four title wins. In an emotional trophy ceremony, Jeff’s dad with tears in his eyes and #23 jersey draped over his back raised the trophy to the appreciative crowd.

Photos by Art Redd

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