BY EVAN WECHMAN
It was a fun and festive atmosphere on Wednesday evening, March 14, 2012, near the train station at the intersection of Orange and Lafayette Avenues. Over 1,000 people celebrated and cheered on the New York State High School Hockey Champions. The prior Sunday, the Suffern High School Mounties Ice Hockey team won the finals in upstate Utica, N.Y. to capture the state championship.
The student-athletes rode up to the monument at Washington Avenue on fire trucks supplied by the villages of Suffern, Tallman, Hillburn, and Sloatsburg. They were greeted by a throng of supporters ranging from little kids to Educators.
Suffern Mayor Dagan Lacorte greeted the champions and emceed the event. He shouted, “Suffern, do we know how to throw a party?” The mayor said that he was thoroughly impressed with the victory which he’d witnessed.
The crowd cheered on as Superintendent of the Ramapo Central School District Dr. Douglas Adams came to the podium. Adams emphasized that though the season was arduous and tough, the students remained “resilient.”
“It would have been easy for the kids to quit but they didn’t,” he said.
He cited the exhausting four overtime victory shoot-out against West Genesee in the semifinals as an example of the squad’s grit. In that game, Willie Sanchez scored the winning goal. Adams said that because of the determined attitude of the players, he knew they would win the final game against number 2 seeded Pittsford.
“There was never any doubt,” he said. “It was just a question of who would score the winning goal.” Despite falling behind early in the championship game by two goals, the hungry Suffern Mounties held the opposition in check and won a tight 3-2 game.
Head Coach Robert Schelling spoke next to the crowd and said he was overwhelmed by the support the team received during the season and when they came back from Utica. The support according to the coach was “nothing short of amazing.” Schelling also thanked the parents of the 27 hockey players who were always there for the team. He made note of various people in the community and Suffern High School Alumni Hockey players who were “always there, pushing us.”
At the celebration each student-athlete had his name announced and was presented with an award winning plaque. It had been 20 years since the high school last won the State Ice Hockey Championship.