Marquette senior forward Zachary Schade could not have imagined a better ending to his high school hockey career.
Schade scored a pair of goals and Ben Chase added a goal and two assists as Marquette notched a 4-2 victory over Francis Howell Central in the Mid-States Hockey Wickenheiser Cup championship game Friday at Scottrade Center.
“It feels amazing you know there’s no other way that I would want to end my high school hockey career,” Schade said.
While Schade and Chase provided the offense, it was junior goaltender Alex Kalmes that made sure the Marquette leads stayed intact.
Kalmes had another superb night between the pipes as he turned away 18 shots.
Kalmes stellar night in goal earned him Wickenheiser Cup Most Valuable player award.
“It feels pretty good to win it,” Kalmes said. “The team helped a lot which was the reason I was able to get it. Without them I probably wouldn’t have gotten it.”
The title was the first for Marquette, which had made only one other championship game appearance prior to this weekend.
Marquette had only 15 shots on goal but with Kalmes in the net, the Mustangs confidence was sky-high in the title game.
“I would hate to play aginst him or coach against him,” Marquette assistant coach Gary Tockman said of Kalmes. “We preach defense wins championships and he’s our best defenseman.”
Marquette (19-8-2) jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first eight minutes thanks to a goals from Trevor Keune and Chase. Schade added a pair of goals and Kalmes kept Howell Central from getting back into it.
“We tried to stick to our game plan early but unfortunately the reason they got those early goals is we got out of our game plan a bit,” Howell Central coach Adam Saito said. “The third period, we kind of got it back but just couldn’t get the puck in the net. It happens.”
Howell Central (15-11-3) cut the lead to 2-1 on a shorthanded tally by Hunter Zieg near the end of the first period.
Schade regained the Mustangs two-goal lead with a power play goal making it 3-1 early in the second stanza.
“It was just amazing coming out and getting those two goals and doing so well on the power play,” Schade said.
Then Kalmes was virtually untouchable in the net the rest of the way.
Howell Central sharp-shooter Cory Robinson scored a goal in the closing minutes but this night belonged to Marquette standouts such as Chase, Schade, Cole Gast, Sam Mudd, Will Chase, Daniel Roux, and Garrett Zombo.
Marquette ended up being the first number one seed in the history of the tournament to win Wickenheiser Cup.
Although the Spartans came up short in the final game, there were few regrets for the club that came in as a number three seed and was not expected to do much beyond the first round of play.
“Coming in as a three seed and ending up a two seed after the first round and getting all the way to the Wick Cup, I think we did okay for a club that almost didn’t have enough kids to play at the start of the year,” Saito said. “I think we’ll take it and get better from here.”