Cougar Hockey Skates their Way to a National Championship

by Brian Lewis, Staff Contributor 456 views1

It’s a fairy tale ending for a Junior College hockey club from Southern California.

The College of the Canyons hockey club became the first team ever to win a Division III National Championship on Saturday night with a 5-3 victory over the Hope Flying Dutchman.

Brian Voogt was one goal away from his third hat trick of the tournament as he put two in the back of the net which ended up being the deciding factor. The freshman from Canyon High School finished with eight goals on his way to being named to the first team for forwards in the tournament.

“I love getting up for the big games,” said Voogt. “A lot of the guys look up to me because that’s one of my roles, to be the goal scorer of the team.”

Voogt start the scoring for COC in the eighth minute as he split the defense at the top of the circles pulling a quick deke between the hash marks leaving the right side of the goal exposed sneaking it under the pads of David Nowicki.

“When I got the puck I went into a zone and once I got my speed up I saw the open opportunity and I took it,” said the freshman forward. “It was amazing to get that first goal and take the crowd out of it.”

Hope had an answer in the fourteenth minute as Riley Hoernschemeyer took the pass from Dave DeVries and drove a powerful wrist shot right over the left blocker of Michael McGrath for the Flying Dutchmens first goal of the contest. The game was tied at one at the end of the first period even though COC out shot Hope 17-7.

The Cougars running back to regain the lead three minutes into the second period with an unassisted goal from captain Andy Jakiel. The goal gave COC all the momentum as it was the first of three unanswered goals in five minutes.

With 14:57 remaining in the second period when Michael Richmond from behind the net found an open Zack Flaschner standing in front of the slot to put it in and give COC a two goal lead at 3-1.

Voogt added the third unanswered goal in the eighth minute on a tip off of Alex Brodetsky shot that slid in past Nowicki on the power play. The Cougars were one of three on the power play while shutting down the Dutchmen in all three of their attempts.

“It doesn’t feel real right now,” said Voogt. “I’m still trying to let it sink in. Its unreal and I’m still shocked that we actually won.”

Andrew Haggerty tried to fly the Dutchmen back into the game with a follow up goal off of a rebound in the seventeenth minute of the second period to cut COC’s lead to just two again heading into the third and final period.

“Hope is a great team that we met early in the season and you can never back off for one moment or they’ll come back at you,” said head coach John Taferner.

The game stayed at that score for most of the third period until lightning stuck again when Tyler Gilmore put COC back up by three with a two on one break away that saw him tuck the puck between Nowicki’s legs for the 5-2 advantage.

Hope kept it a game late in the third with just under three minutes to play, Chris Kunnen put one in the top right shelf of the net that snuck just past the outstretched glove of McGrath. McGrath saved 24 of 27 shots on goal for the Cougars on his way to being named the Most Valuable Player of the tournament.

“This is what I’ve been looking forward to for three years,” said McGrath. “I can’t explain what I’m feeling right now, I can’t put it into words.”

The Cougars played five games in four days in order to take home their first National Championship; defeating Fredonia State 4-3, Loyola Maryland 5-4, Saginaw Valley State 4-1, California University of Pennsylvania 2-1 and Hope College of Michigan 5-3 in the championship game.

“We said we were going to take a shot at Nationals at the beginning of the season and that’s what we did,” said Taferner.

  • Mike

    CONGRATS to you guys at COC!!! I loved watching you guys play all season…and to finish it off this way is only fitting! AWESOME!!!