Three weeks after carefully packaging and mailing the 35-pound traveling trophy bound for Salt Lake City, Kelley Pfeiffer finds herself again making room in the display case at St. Charles Community College.
That’s because for the third straight year, the National Collegiate Roller Hockey Association’s Junior College championship cup will be on display outside the SCC Student Activities Office, where Pfeiffer works as the student activities and club sports coordinator.
The win came to SCC in the final 38 seconds at the Olympic Oval in Salt Lake City, as the Roller Hockey Cougars broke a 2-2 tie and closed the door on the Saddleback College (Calif.) Gauchos, sniping their third straight national title.
“I guess I’m not surprised. Over time, our hockey club has established themselves as the team to beat,” Pfeiffer said. “They put in the effort, and somehow in the final seconds of every important game they find a way to keep winning.”
Shaped from experiences over recent years, SCC coaches Erick Cantrell and Blake Propp built a team poised for late-game heroics in 2012.
“We knew we’d be competing on an oversized rink and at a high altitude against very talented teams,” Propp said. “All the skating and cardio work that we did in practice at the end of the season gave our guys an extra boost that the other teams didn’t seem to have.”
Leading up to the national championship tournament, Cantrell and Propp focused on extra skating drills to ensure the 13-man roster was in peak physical shape to outlast their opponents.
“We knew we had the talent to win, so physical fitness became our main focus to be sure our guys would be able to skate hard all game at the national level,” Propp said. “We saw other teams tiring in the last five minutes of games. Not our guys.”
SCC’s uphill battle in the final five minutes versus Saddleback came more on the mental front – not the physical.
After fighting back from a 2-0 deficit, the referees disallowed a Cougars go-ahead goal for high-sticking with less than two minutes to play in the third period.
“Nobody panicked,” Propp said. “That’s hard for some. It would have been easy to crumble after having a goal disallowed. You’ve got to be mentally tough to get past something like that, and our guys were.”
Less than a minute later at the 11:22 mark of the third period, the Cougars’ proved their toughness when Matt Stobart buried a pass from Brendan Dugger and Tommy Wilson past Saddleback goalie Cody Hennings.
Like Hennings was for the Gauchos, the key to SCC’s success in Salt Lake City came from inside the goalie crease. Joe Colmo’s strong showing throughout the six-game tournament was a critical component to SCC capturing its 10th national title in 12 years.
“He carried the team on his back,” Cantrell said. “But really, we got big contributions from across the board.”
Dugger led the team with four goals in the semi-finals versus Santa Barbara Community College. He netted 10 over the six-game stretch. Other playoff goals came from Stobart (8), Todd Hoeferlin (5), Tommy Wilson (4), Brian Vogler (2), Jaron Lutz (2), Chris Keppler (2), Brent Propp (2), Andrew Helbig (2) and Danny Brown (1).
Hoeferlin, Lutz, Wilson and Colmo all played on the Cougars’ 2011 national championship team.
For more information about the SCC Roller Hockey team, visit stchas.edu/rollerhockey.
Established in 1986, St. Charles Community College is celebrating 25 years as a public, comprehensive two-year community college with associate degrees and certificate programs in the arts, business, sciences and career-technical fields. SCC provides workforce training and community-based personal and professional development as well as cultural, recreational and entertainment opportunities. For more information, visit www.stchas.edu.