The Parkway South Patriots are Founders Cup champions.
The Patriots defeated the Eureka Wildcats 7-3 in the recent championship game at the Queeny Recreational Complex. The Patriots finished 7-15-3. The Wildcats, the reigning Founders Cup champions, wound up 7-16-3.
Coach Jim Taylor said he was proud of his team and what it accomplished.
“I was happy for them,” Taylor said. “I’ve commented that this was the end of season tournament most appropriate for our team this year. Once you accept that and you just get down to the business of preparing and executing a game plan, it’s definitely rewarding to see the kids experience the winning.”
The Founders Cup is the third level postseason tournament for teams in the Midstates Club Hockey Association.
Parkway South reached the title game by winning it’s opening series against the Fort Zumwalt South Bulldogs. After playing to a 3-3 tie, the Patriots scored a 3-1 victory.
The Patriots then faced Lutheran South in the semifinals. Parkway South scored decisive 4-1 and 6-1 victories. Senior defenseman Chase McClellan scored a hat trick in the first game for the Patriots. Michael Sapienza and Brendan Foshee each scored two goals for Parkway South in the second game. Sophomore goalie Garrett Limpert stopped 11 shots in the first game and then 26 shots in the next contest.
Eureka defeated St. Mary’s in its opening series and then got past Webster Groves in the semifinals.
“The mood was pretty relaxed going into that game,” Taylor said about the championship contest. “They had been playing well and mostly I think they were just happy to have extended the season as far as possible.”
In his pregame visit, Taylor told his club they were ready for prime time.
“I just reminded them that they were extremely well prepared for a game like that,” Taylor said. “They had been practicing well and executing well on game days of late so just go out and do it one more time. I also reminded them that they should be excited about an opportunity to secure the championship against a good conference opponent.”
Eureka jumped out and led 3-1 after the first period.
“(We) Probably just needed to calm down and simplify the game a bit,” Taylor said. “We can get caught trying to overhandle the puck or choose the complicated play over the easy play sometimes.”
Before the second period, Taylor said he “just asked them to trust the game plan and the style of play that had led to our best moments. I Got them to refresh their commitment to those things and told them I was confident the goals would come.”
They did. The Patriots erupted for five goals in the second period.
“That was certainly one of our best periods of the season,” Taylor said. “The style of play was very similar to the times this year where we’d had success.
“When they prioritize the right things and stay committed to a game plan and trust that it gives them the best chance of success, they’re far more competitive. Once they see it for a few shifts they can usually stay with it.”
McClellan scored four goals in the victory.
“Chase plays with high hockey IQ and typically finds skating lanes and shooting lanes very well,” Taylor said. “That night he was able to finish. Chase is certainly one of the top high school players in the city so no surprise when he decides to take over a game.
“What I appreciate most is that he prioritizes the defensive responsibility and jumps into the offense at the correct moments. He usually doesn’t force it.”
Limpert recorded 27 saves for Parkway South in the title game.
“Garrett is developing quite well,” Taylor said. “As he develops more confidence through some of the success he’s had this season, I think his best hockey is still out there.”
Taylor praised the play of his team in the victory.
“This win required contribution from the entire group,” Taylor said.
This was Taylor’s fourth season leading the program. He believes this victory will help the team in the future.
“Winning breeds confidence and a desire to come back and win some more,” Taylor said. “So I think our younger players will carry that forward and play with more authority, more confidence than maybe they otherwise would have. Unfortunately, we lose five skaters to graduation and I’m not sure what we pick up with new enrollment.
“We’re in a strange window right now where there aren’t as many players enrolled at Parkway South as some recent years. That means young players are going to get bigger roles than you might like as a coach. But if they respond correctly it might lead to more development for the individual players and the program.”