March 18, 2018, will be a day SAR High School should remember for a long time — especially for anyone who is a hockey fan.
It’s that day the Sting earned the school’s first-ever floor hockey championship.
Sure, SAR’s high school just opened its doors in 2003, but still, this was a long road for head coach Howie Falkenstein, who first founded the school’s hockey program back then. After 15 years of coming up short of a championship, the program now has its long-awaited victorious moment.
“This was the school’s first varsity championship, so it was a big deal for everybody who has ever been a part of this program,” Falkenstein said. “It was my first championship for varsity as a head coach as well, so it was a special feeling.”
The Sting faced off against the Frisch Cougars for the title, winning the game 5-1. But it was a bit closer than what the final score might suggest. Entering the third and final period, SAR held just a two-goal lead.
The packed third-period included goals from Gordie Kolb, sealing the victory for SAR.
“The game was tight going into the third period, we were only winning 3-1,” Falkenstein said. “I told the boys that this was our period, this is what we play for. We took care of business and ended up winning 5-1.”
Kolb, a senior captain for Sting, reflected on the game a week later, still feeling a championship high.
“It really is a great way to end my high school hockey career,” he said. “Going out as a winner is not something everyone has an opportunity to do, and (we) … have gone out on top.”
The clock was ticking, Kolb was capitalizing.
“I was constantly thinking about the few minutes I had left in my high school career and I was motivating myself to do the best I could in the time I had left,” he said. “Opportunity presented itself and I was lucky enough to be able to take advantage of what was in front of me.”
Motivation also came from Kolb’s teammates, one of whom is his brother, Henri Kolb, the team’s starting goalie.
“Something that always motivated me was playing to the best of my ability because I really wanted to celebrate a championship with all of my teammates, including my brother, Henri,” he said.
Despite Kolb’s five goals, this was still a team victory, Falkenstein said.
“Some of Gordie’s goals were incredible,” he said. “A lot of the goals came off of hard work, and he was able to finish them off. Six different players put up points, so it really was a team effort.”
Winning a game in this fashion was commonplace for SAR this season.
“We were a little short-handed in the playoffs, but we really had a ton of depth this year,” Falkenstein said. “I told the boys that if we play our game, no team can hang with us.”
After winning the junior varsity championship three seasons ago, Falkenstein was ready to take their trophy to the next level.
“We’re a very senior-led team, and we’re a team that’s been very battle tested,” Falkenstein said. “The last two years we’ve lost in the semifinals to the team that won the championship. When the seniors were freshman they won the junior varsity championship, which was the first JV title for the school. And this year, we had a great regular season, losing only one game. We had a very good team and we made it happen this year.”
Frisch, SAR’s opponent in the championship game, also happened to be Falkenstein’s alma mater.
“My senior year I won a championship there,” Falkenstein said. “But it was a great experience to beat them as well.”
Winning was “fun,” but the team looks forward to defending their title next season.
“Now we have a taste of winning, and we want to win again,” Falkenstein said. “Next year it’s going to be interesting because I think that a lot of people don’t expect us to compete. We’re losing a lot of star power, but the players that are still here have talent.”
Without “star power” next season in the likes of Judah Fortgang, Romi Harcsztark and Jacob Nayowitz, SAR will assume the role of underdogs.
“It will be good for us to defend a championship that way,” Falkenstein said. “We’ll be able to catch teams by surprise.”