The Wake County High School hockey Championship Tournament was held Feb. 6- 7 at Dreamsports in Apex. The tournament was set in a double elimination format, and Leesville entered the tournament as the second seed.
In the first round Leesville faced Apex, a team who had beaten Leesville in the regular season. Leesville started off slow allowing Apex a 2-0 lead in the first period, but Leesville’s defense stepped up, only allowing one more goal for the rest of the game. Leesville dominated the final two periods winning 7-3. “It was a great confidence booster,” said Sam Banasiewicz, freshman, “we had to play hard to come back from two goals down.”
Green Hope Maroon would be waiting for Leesville in the second round. The Pride found themselves down 4-1 late in the third period. Although the pride scored two goals with just under a minute left, they could not complete the comeback, falling short 4-3. Leesville suffered their first loss but still had hope because of the double elimination format.
The next two games for the Pride would be two of the most exciting games of the whole tournament. First, Leesville played Wakefield Black, and again the Pride would find themselves down late in the third. With one minute to go Leesville pulled their goalie and it paid off; Dillon Corrigan, senior, tipped in a shot with only forty-five seconds left. Bobby Iannuzzelli, senior would score on a slap shot in overtime to give the Pride the win, 7-6.
In the fourth game of the day, a fatigued Pride squared off against Green Hope Green, the number one seed, and for a third time in a row the Pride was behind with little time left on the clock. After a timeout, Andy Smith, senior, ripped a slap shot tying the game with a minute and a half left.
The Pride had no intentions of going into overtime again, and Corrigan again helped save the day by scoring his second goal thirty seconds later. Corrigan would clench the game with a lobbed shot that traveled the length of the rink ending up in the back of the net. The goal would be Corrigan’s third goal and would give him a hat trick for the game.
Leesville finished up the day with the two come-from-behind wins which kept them alive in the tournament. The Pride made it to the second day of tournament play and the bronze metal match against Cardinal Gibbons. With a win, Leesville would make it to the championship game.
Early on Sunday, the Pride outplayed Cardinal Gibbons defeating them 7-2 which put them in the championship game versus an undefeated Green Hope Maroon, the only team Leesville had lost to in the tournament thus far.
Because of the double elimination format the Pride would have to defeat Green Hope twice in order to be named the champions.
No second game would be needed however because Leesville could not keep up with the faster Green Hope team. Midway through the second period Smith and Iannuzzelli would be thrown out of the game due to game misconduct penalties. Green Hope would defeat Leesville 8-5, and the Pride would finish in second place earning a silver medal. “Even though we did not win the gold the whole weekend experience with the team was worth more than coming in first place,” said Andrew Wolfe, senior.
The team points leaders consisted of Iannuzzelli with 13 points overall (5 goals, 8 assists), and Corrigan with 12 points (10 goals, 2 assists), but all teammates would contribute to the teams’ success during the tournament.
Now, some members of the team continue their play in hockey travel leagues, and seniors Smith and Iannuzzelli plan to continue their hockey careers during college for East Carolina’s roller hockey team.
Sam Banasiewicz, freshman
Dillon Corrigan, Senior
Preston Earp, freshman
Bobby Iannuzzelli, Senior
Michael Meli, sophomore
Dylan Rhudy, Senior
Andy Smith, Senior
Nick Szerszen, Senior
Andrew Williams, Junior
Andrew Wolfe, Senior
Matt Conrad, freshman
John Wolfe, sophomore Coach: Cindy Smith