The Bedford Bears Bantam A (TB) team captured the New York State championship title the weekend of March 23rd to 25th in Buffalo, NY. It is the first State title in Bears history. The Bears began their quest for the State title on Friday, March 23rd in the pool play round at CornerStone Arena in Lockport, NY. In Game 1, the Bears faced-off against the Jamestown Lakers from Jamestown NY. Jamestown was the number 1 seed from the West. After a scoreless first period, Jamestown got on the board at 1:08 of the second period. The Bears were able to answer on a breakaway goal by Jack Tuite (Shrub Oak) on a turnover by the Jamestown defenseman at 3:13. Michael McKeon (Waccabuc) gave the Bears the lead at 2-1 from an assist from Mattie Wierl (Katonah) at 6:33 of the second. Jamestown finished out the scoring two goals in the second period at 10:29 and 14:24 to take a 3-2 lead into intermission. The Bears were able to tie the game at 15:13 of the 3rd period on an unassisted goal by Sava Mararenko (Yorktown Heights). The game remained that way until Jamestown scored 1:42 into overtime for a 4-3 win. Rich Mugler (Bedford) had 36 saves in the game in goal.
On Saturday, the Bears had to play the final two games of the pool play at the Northtown Center in Amherst, NY. The Bears opened the day against North Country (Number 2 seed) from the north. The Bears jumped out to an early first period lead on goals by Nick Biagini (Mahopac), two by Sava Mararenko, and Mattie Wierl. They added to the lead with goals by in the second period by Gabe Adams (Chappaqua) and 2 more from Nick Biagini. They finished with goals by Mararenko, Tuite, Wierl and Michael Vessecchia (Bedford) in the third period. Goalie Ben Sfarra (Armonk) had 19 saves in the game.
In second game of the day, the Bears faced Cortland (Number 1 seed) from the Central and built an early lead in the first period on a natural hat trick by Mattie Wierl. They added to the score in the second with goals by Gabe Adams, Jack Tuite, Nick Biagini and 3 more from Mattie Wierl. The Bears added two more in the third by Wierl and Joe Cirpriano (Armonk). In the game Mattie Wierl finished with 7 goals for the Bears. Rich Mugler finished with 21 saves. At the completion of the game the Bears found out that they would be playing HVHL rival White Plains in a semi-final Medal round game on Sunday.
On Sunday, the Bears traveled back to CornerStone Arena in Lockport, NY to face White Plains in one of two semi-final games to determine who would face-off for the State Championship at 2:00. The game started with a quick pace that continued through the game. Both teams had scoring opportunities through the first period until White Plains was able to break through to take a 1-0 lead with 6:21 to play in the period. They increased their led to 2-0 on a power-play goal with 11:24 left in the second period. The Bears cut the score to 2-1 at 10:05 of the second period on a goal from Michael McKeon on a nice give and go at the corner of the goal mouth from a feed from Sava Makarenko. The Bears tied the game at 7:46 mark on a goal from Gabe Adams on a redirect of a shot from Jack Tuite. White Plains took the lead on an even strength goal with 6:23 left in the second. White Plains took this 3-2 lead into intermission. After intermission, the Bears continued to apply pressure on White Plains and finally tied the game at 3-3 on a power play goal by Mattie Wierl from a pass by Michael McKeon at 12:22. On the ensuing face-off Sava Makerenko took the puck and flew pass the White Plains defenseman to put the Bears ahead for good it 4-3 at 12:12. Then with 4:30 left to play Jack Tuite added an insurance goal with assists going to Nick Biagini and Gabe Adams. Goalie Ben Sfarra finished the game with 22 saves.
After a short rest back at the hotel the Bears had to pack their bags and check out of for the 2:00 championship game at the Northtown Center against Jamestown (1 seed from West) who they had lost to in the Pool play round 4-3 in overtime. The Bears came out strong and showed no signs of a letdown after beating White Plains. The teams stayed knotted at 0-0 until Jack Tuite won an offensive zone face-off to Brien Suchanek (Somers) who fired a shot to the net that Tuite deflected down through the goalie legs to give the Bears a 1-0 lead with 6:13 left in the first. The goal may not have happened if it was not a heads up play by Michael McKeon to force the face-off in the Lakers end of the ice. Michael noticed that group of players from both teams were changing and that the Laker goalie was going to try to move the puck so he raced in to force the goaltender to freeze the puck before making his own change. The first period end with the Bears leading 1-0. The Bears started the second period on a powerplay and the Lakers were called for another infraction shortly after the start of the period. The Bears took advantage of the 5 on 3 powerplay and added to their lead on a goal by Jack Tuite with assists going to Matt Wierl and Michael McKeon at 15:26 of the start of the period. The Lakers were able to cut the lead to 2-1 on a goal from the high in the slot area on a shot that was originally blocked by a Bear player with 3:15 to go in the second. The 3rd period was filled with strong up and down play by both teams. Both goalies made several key saves to keep the game at 2-1 until Mattie Wierl out battled a Jamestown defenseman in the corner. He then made a pass to a streaking Gabe Adams who was coming from the bench to which he redirected the puck to the top corner and put the Bears up 3-1 with 12:10 left to play. The Bears took a penalty with 4:44 to go in the game and were able to kill the penalty off but Jamestown had pulled their goalie for an extra attacker for the final 55 seconds of the penalty. The Bears were not able to get control of the puck and the Lakers scored with 1:28 left to play. The Lakers won the ensuing face-off and were able to pull their goalie again as they attacked the Bears zone. Ben Sfarra had to make a couple of more key saves before the Bears were able to ice the puck with 35 seconds to go. The Bears were able to win the face-off to the right of Sfarra but were unable to get the puck out until there were 12 seconds left on the clock but Jamestown quickly attacked the Bedford zone again when Joe Cipriano block the first shot attempt to the goal and then Chris Stiller (Mahopac) blocked the second attempt in which the puck rolled on goal and Ben Sfarra covered with .5 seconds remaining. The face-off went to the left of Sfarra in which Mattie Wierl pushed to the sideboards and the horn sounded to start the celebration with a BEARS vcitory. BEARS STATE CHAMPIONS!!!
Our forwards were led by the following players:
Gabe Adams (Chappaqua) (80 points)
Nick Biagini (Mahopac) (53 points)
Sava Makarenko (Yorktown Heights) (71 points)
Michael McKeon (Waccabuc) (65 points)
Jack Tuite (Shrub Oak) (99 points)
Michael Vessecchia (Bedford) (20 points)
Matt Wierl (Katonah) (92 points)
Our defense was led by the following players:
Joe Cipriano (Armonk)(26 points with a plus/minus of 61)
Aidan Dermody (Pleasantville) (10 points with a plus/minus of 43)
Ryan Kaplan (Katonah) (8 points and a plus/minus of 50)
Chris Stiller (Mahopac) (18 points with a plus/minus of 58)
Brien Suchanek (Somers) (11 points with a plus/minus of 46)
Our goaltenders were:
Rich Mugler (Bedford) (19-3-2 with a Goals Against Average of 1.59 and Save % of 89.91%)
Ben Sfarra (Armonk) (20-2-4 record with a Goals Against Average of 1.52 and a Save % of 91.14%)