AMES — The look on the players’ faces at the conclusion of Sunday’s Midwest High School Hockey League championship told you all you needed to know about what this meant to the Mohawk Hockey Club.
This was supposed to be the Mohawks’ moment and their time to shine, they felt. Everything they had worked for in their careers was right in front of them. But just as quickly as the opportunity was handed to them with a triple overtime win Friday to reach the title game, it was snatched right away in an emotional 4-2 loss vs. Sioux City.
“We fought our whole life for this moment leading up to this,” senior Cole Baskerville said. “We didn’t get what we wanted, but all of us in there, we put up one heck of a fight. The outcome sucks but it shows how far we’ve come.”
Sunday’s game saw a Mohawk team which played the game it wanted to, but an early hole made things a lot tougher.
Sioux City put up two goals in the first period, and added one more in the opening minutes of the second to go up 3-0. With things not looking well, the Mohawks, led by their 14 seniors, dug deep to find the magic that had helped them reach this points.
At just over four minutes into the second, the Mohawks got onto the board with a power-play goal by Zach Jimenez, and suddenly things started to turn their way. Through the rest of the game, they were the more physical team, and their offense was the better of the two.
They brought it within one goal 17 seconds into the third when Wil Cooney lit the lamp, but Sioux City responded with a goal of its own three minutes later.
“We just kept telling ourselves that we’re not out of this,” senior Jaxon Jones said. “We just needed to believe, get some shots and we ended up controlling most of the game.”
The Mohawks had their opportunities the rest of the way, but nothing went in.
As the final horn sounded, the Mohawks could hardly watch as Sioux City flung its gear up in the air and all over the ice in celebration. The only thing on the Mohawks’ end was players with their hands over their heads, or down on their knees in defeat.
As they received their second-place trophy, the frustration was still visible for most, and that continued into the locker room. Once there, a little perspective came out for the team that gave the Mohawk Hockey Club its first runner-up since 2006.
“It does hurt, but they should be proud of themselves because they played a heck of a game and a heck of a tournament,” co-coach John Lloyd said. “It was a good team effort and that’s what we had most of the season. We started putting things together, we got better and they should be proud of themselves.”
It was on the shoulders of those 14 seniors that the Mohawks rose. They knew coming up that this was going to be their year if there ever was a time.
But, going out second is something they’re not ashamed of.
“I’ve coached this team since they were in squirts and I watched them grow and I told them one day we would get here,” assistant coach Jason Baskerville said. “A lot of people were against us, but this whole team, they have a lot of heart and that’s what got them here.”
Added Jones, “This whole weekend has been really fun and a good experience for us. Us seniors, we just went out there, played our best and enjoyed this game knowing that it would be our last game together.”