FORT WAYNE – A first Fort Wayne High School Hockey Association tournament championship didn’t come easily for Leo. But eventually it did come as the Lions held off Carroll 7-5 Wednesday in the city finals at Lutheran Health SportsCenter.
It was the first city tournament championship for the Lions, who also won the 2014 city regular-season title. Homestead had won the last four city tourney titles.
It means everything, Leo coach Dan Schiebel said of the championship. We started four years ago as a 1A team and worked our way up and won the 3A championship two years ago, up to winning the league this year.
The two teams met seven times this year, with Leo beating Carroll 5-4 two weeks ago to clinch the regular-season championship.
We have worked hard the past couple of weeks for this win, Leo senior Nick Janiszewski said. We played a couple of weeks ago. It was a tough game, and we won with 20 seconds to go basically. We played tough this game and came out strong. It feels amazing. It is what we have worked for all year.
Janisewski won the league’s regular-season scoring title with 56 points, 26 goals and 30 assists and had a goal in the championship.
Leo held a 6-3 lead with just under seven minutes left when Carroll got a couple of quick goals to cut the margin to 6-5 with four minutes left. The Lions held the Chargers off in the final seconds and got an empty-net goal from Rory Scott with a second left for the final margin.
I was very worried, Schiebel said when the lead was dwindling. But the team with the most heart won the game. That’s a very tough team and very well-coached team that we played.
Connor Bonecutter scored two goals for the Lions, and Zach Dailey had a goal and an assist.
It was well fought by both teams, and of course we came out on top, Bonecutter said. It was a great team effort.
Also collecting goals were Daniel Watson and Scott Jacoby.
Carroll (16-4-3) got two goals from Connor Barney and a goal apiece from Garrett Leeper, Logan Gottschalk and Drew Cybulski. The Chargers won the tournament title in 2005, 2007 and 2009.
Janiszewski’s breakaway goal with 12:23 left appeared to give the Lions a comfortable margin at 5-2, but eventually Carroll would get to within 6-5 on goals from Barney and Cybulski.
Goalies Matt Janiszewski from Leo and Corbin Moore from Carroll each had 29 saves.