Hockey wins 8th consecutive Jesuit Cup, steamrolls Kirkwood

A momentous roar erupted from the St. Louis U. High student section as the final seconds ticked down in the annual Jesuit Cup game last Friday. For the seventh straight year, the hockey team brought the Jesuit Cup back to Oakland.

Players celebrate the Jesuit Cup win. Photo: 

The Jesuit Cup is a long-standing hockey tradition between the two St. Louis Jesuit High schools, De Smet, and SLUH. For the past seven years, SLUH has won the trophy in resounding victory, adding even more fuel to the competition. 

“The whole team was extremely excited for the game,” said senior captain Max Sextro. “ It’s the J-Cup, we all know it’s huge.”

Beyond the rivalry, the J-Cup stands for much more. Since 2013, SLUH and De Smet have used the game to remember Clare Blase, a former Nerinx cheerleader who died of cancer on Dec. 14, 2012. The schools band together to raise money for the Clare Blase Historical Scholarship fund, which aids girls who have struggled with cancer in their life. A great cause, the J-Cup is more than just a rivalry game.

The game started tightly contested, as both sides fought for control of the puck. However, late in the first period, senior Mario DiMaggio made a pass to senior Ben Winkelmann, who skated up the rink before passing off  to Sextro, who buried the puck for SLUH’s first goal of the night. 

It was a huge moment for us,” said Sextro. “We all started to believe that we were going to win the cup and bring it back home.”

Throughout the second period, the Jr. Bills fought hard to start something offensively, but time and time again, the tough De Smet defense halted the Jr. Bills’ efforts. Despite the lack of offense in the second, SLUH’s defense stayed strong and held off a rowdy De Smet offense trying to tie the game back up. 

After countless attacks on the goal throughout the second period and into the third, SLUH struck again. With five minutes to go, Sextro made a swift pass to freshman Patrick Vogl, who maneuvered it past De Smet’s goalie for the second SLUH goal, his first with the team. 

“I was on my line with Sextro and Winklemann. I went back door and got a cross ice pass from Sextro and put it in,” said Vogl. “It was surreal. I heard my crowd going crazy and De Smet’s crowd booing. It was so loud.”

With a great crowd behind them, SLUH felt the energy of their fans which helped propel them to victory. 

“The crowd is a huge factor,” said Walters. “The SLUH atmosphere of the student body cheering for their buddies on the ice is heartfelt and the players know it. When we have that big of a fan base, the other team is at a disadvantage. There is a SLUH comradery among the players and the fans that other teams can’t understand.”

The late second goal made it seem like the game was decided. SLUH could have dropped back to protect their own goal, but they had different plans. With a minute left in the third, senior Nick Lyons broke free from the De Smet defenders and passed to fellow senior Ryan Spinner, who sealed the game with an empty net goal.

“It was a great moment,” said Vogl. “Hopefully, we can bring (the cup) back my next three years as well.”

Despite three momentous offensive plays, the true victory for the team was in the defense. SLUH shut out a formidable De Smet offense, who had previously been crushing all other opponents. Walters cited both a strong defensive line and junior goalie Max Bely for SLUH’s outstanding performance in the Jesuit Cup. 

“The team believes in our goaltending,” said Walters. “He started out the game really strong and our message going into that game was to be smart in the defensive areas and the scoring chances will come. Our defense made De Smet pay if they came into the middle of the ice.”

Following the resounding defeat of their Jesuit rivals, the Jr. Bills carried their momentum with them into Saturday’s game against Kirkwood. 

“Against Kirkwood, we came out with a great intensity,” said Walters. “We came out fast and played a really good game after the J-Cup.”

Winning convingly 5-1, SLUH dispatched the Pioneers before looking ahead to a decent but feisty Lafayette team. This past Monday, the team hoped to showcase the same stellar defense that was on display against De Smet and extend their win streak to four games. 

The Jr. Bills struck fast. Winkelmann scored 30 seconds into the first period. However, Lafayette quickly tied the game on a breakaway goal at the 12 minute mark. This was only the beginning of a game marked by back and forth play. 

With two minutes remaining in the second period, junior Henry Serafin broke the stalemate with a goal. However, Lafayette again tied it up in the first three minutes of the third period, and then quickly struck again, tipping the puck past Bely to go up by 3-2 with nine minutes to play. 

The moment of darkness was quickly dissipated when Spinner, with six minutes left, snuck a shot past the Lafayette goalie to tie the game back up. Neither team could score again and the game ended in a tie.
“On paper, it said that SLUH would win the game,” said Walters. “I think our kids thought we had the game in hand, and I’ll take nothing away from Lafayette. When we were not as hungry as we should have been, Lafayette took advantage and they always play a great game against us. 

After the huge Jesuit Cup victory and the Lafayette tie, the Jr. Bills’ record stands at 3-1-1. They will look to defeat Rockwood tonight, with the puck dropping at 8:10 p.m. at the Afton Ice Hockey Rink. 

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