Calvert Hall beats St. Paul's, 3-1, to win MIAA 'A' hockey crown

February 19, 2010|By Mike Frainie | Special to The Baltimore Sun

Nick Kokkinakos has learned a few of life's hard lessons lately, lessons that have made him cherish important moments in life all the more. Thanks to his play in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference championship at Piney Orchard, Thursday will be one of those days.

Kokkinakos made 39 saves - several of them spectacular - in leading Calvert Hall (13-8-3) to its third consecutive A Conference crown with a 3-1 victory over previously undefeated St. Paul's (12-1-0).

The senior dedicated the victory to his aunt, Helen Spyribakos, who is dying of cancer, and his teammate, Joey Vonakis, who was injured this year and might never play hockey again.

"I've thought about them a lot for the last month," Kokkinakos said "You never realize what you have 'til it's taken from you. I definitely wanted to bring this one home for us."

That's exactly what he did for the Cardinals, who had lost, 3-1, to the Crusaders on Feb. 4.

Calvert Hall struck first when senior Ben West scored his first goal of the season, beating St. Paul's goalie Ty Kapp on a tip-in 5:42 into the first period. That goal stood up until the Crusaders tied the score on a blast by Brian Baublitz from the point with 32 seconds left in the second period that eluded a screened Kokkinakos.

The third period belonged to the Cardinals. St. Paul's peppered Kokkinakos with shots on several power plays, but the senior held his ground. Just 1:39 into the final period, Matt Williams gave the Cardinals the lead for good when he tapped a shot by Brett Gleiche over Kapp's left shoulder to make the score 2-1.

"We were skating down the ice on a two-on-two, and Ben took a shot. I was fortunate enough to have my stick in the right place, and I tapped it up over his shoulder."

The Cardinals extended the lead seven minutes later, when sophomore Jack Brust took a pinpoint pass from Gleiche and beat Kapp between his legs to make it 3-1.

"It was great to score the goal, but we still had a little over five minutes left to play," Brust said. "St. Paul's is a good offensive team, and there was still a lot of time left."

The Cardinals had to kill three penalties down the stretch, including a five-on-three for 1:42 in the final five minutes to preserve the victory. In that span, Kokkinakos made several key saves that frustrated the Crusaders. He finished the period with 19 saves. When the pressure got tougher, Kokkinakos held his ground.

"We were the defending A Conference champions, and we wanted to go out that way," Kokkinakos said. "That was a little extra motivation for us. I wanted to give it my all, both for my aunt and for all my teammates."

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