It was 39 years ago after the Olympic Men’s Hockey Game between the underdog USA team and the mighty, unbeatable Russians when sports announcer Al Michaels shouted out “Do You Believe In Miracles? YES!” — a fact that wasn’t lost on Blade’s Coach John Peschell.
He mentioned the “Miracle on Ice,” to his girls, saying, “If they could do it, so can we.”
The Blades (Amity/Cheshire/North Haven) Girls Ice Hockey team went up against one of the toughest opponents in the SCC tournament final in West Haven on Friday night. Sacred Heart West Haven (18-2), which defeated the Blades 5-1 in late January may have crushed the confidence of some challengers, but Peschell’s girls didn’t let it phase them. They came into the game knowing that after a spotty season, they were blessed to be there and with unprecedented determination, they were ready to fight for the title.
Here’s how it went:
The Sharks’ Jenna Hunt started off the game with a goal in the first 26 seconds of the first period.
Less than three minutes later the Blades’ Tess Csejka, tied the game, assisted by Haley Cable.
The non-stop action in this matchup was unbelievable with everyone showing off their best moves. The clock ticked down and suddenly, with just 4 seconds remaining in the first, Megan Froehlich got one past Blades Goalie Caitlin Ranciato, taking the lead.
First Period Score: 2-1 West Haven
The second period mirrored the first as far as hard work on both sides.
This time the Blades were first to score, with Hannah Sosensky tying the game, assisted by Caroline Cadeina at 3:19.
Then, at 9:28 Taylor Nowak scored for the Sharks, assisted by McNabola.
Second Period Score: 3-2 West Haven
The battle continues into the third period with the Sharks skating, shooting and passing like the champs they’d become. Two-thirds of the period passed without any change on the scoreboard.
Then Tess Csejka swooped in on West Haven’s Goalie Kyleen Crowe and scored on a power play, assisted by Meaghan Hogan, tying the score at 3.
Both teams continued to skate and shoot on goal until the Blades took possession and Csejka took a pass from Hogan and effortlessly slapped it into the net, getting a hat trick on the game-winning goal with 3:30 remaining.
The buzzer sounded and Blades fans hoped to hear the announcer say, “Do You Believe In Miracles? YES!” because we sure did.
Csejka won the MVP award.
The Blades out-shot the Sharks.
Saves: Ranciato 24, Crowe 28
Peschell had nothing but praise for the Sharks. “Sacred Heart is a very good team with a lot of talented players. We knew this would be tough, all I wanted to do was keep the game close to give us a chance in the third period.”
Of Csejka, he said, “She has been special for us all season, playing forward when we need her there and also playing defense when we need her there.”
Aside from the underdogs defeating a goliath team, there’s one more parallel to the 1980 Olympic “Miracle,” — both the USA and the Blades won 4-3.