Waterloo Warriors capture state championship last weekend

By Staff Writers Rachel Schmid and Jack Moody

At the state hockey championships last weekend in Ames, Cade Saeugling from Independence converted on a penalty shot for the Waterloo Warriors with just over a minute left, leading the Warriors to a 2-1 victory for the Midwest High School Hockey League tournament championship.

The Warriors showed up in Ames ranked third in the midwest, and they went strong into the first round, playing Kansas City and winning 8 to 3. They advanced into the semifinals on Saturday playing Omaha and winning a close 2 to 1.

As they advanced into the championship round, they were nervous, but ready to play. “There were big time nerves, but we knew that the boys were well prepared,” team representative Shane Stetch said.

As they were closing in on the last minutes of the championship final game, junior Coulter Dupree, who has played for the Warriors since freshman year, and described the energy in the ice arena as “insane. People were yelling and the bench erupted.”

Saeugling’s chance in the championship final came when Logan Visser of Sioux City was whistled for tripping late in the game. Dawson Sturch, a senior from Waterloo West came up big, stopping 38 shots on goal from the Metros. The Warriors’ leading scorer, Kyle Schott, started the scoring with an assisted goal 6:20 into the second period. Schott was also selected to be on the 2017 all league team.

The team took home their seventh varsity championship trophy, their first since 2012. Junior Ben Boezinger also plays for the Warriors and said that the win was amazing. “It felt so good to win. It shows that all of out hard work this season has paid off, and I can’t wait for the next.”

The team is hoping to be invited to nationals later this year where they will go head to head with the top teams in the nation. “It would be an honor to make it,” Stetch said. “The kids have worked for it.”

The Warriors finished with a 24-7 record. They finished third in the regular season standings behind Omaha and the Des Moines Capitals, and then went on to win the championship.

Developing team chemistry can be more difficult being on a team with kids from other schools. Some players said it’s easier because everyone on the team has the same goal, which is to win. Tyler Starbeck, a junior at Cedar Falls, said he enjoys playing with different people. “Playing with kids from other schools helps everyone get to know new people and also helps the attendance at games increase.”

In September, 2015, the Warriors’ suffered a major loss after the unexpected passing of a teammate Kurt Reidy.  “The loss of Kurt was definitely a challenge but the support of his mom Karla and dad John showed us to be strong and play harder,” Starbeck said.

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