ST. JOHN | There's a flip-side to the adage "three's a charm."
"Yeah, we were disappointed," Crown Point Hockey Club head coach Brent Giffin said of the Bulldogs' 2-1 overtime loss to Munster in the semifinals of the Roper Cup, also known as the Illiana High School Hockey League Tournament.
"(Since 1989) No one has every won three Roper Cups in a row," said Giffin, whose team won it in 2011 and 2012, but were stopped short of coveted "three-peat."
"It stung a little bit, but it makes us want this a little more," said senior defenseman Brett Gilbert in reference to the Indiana High School Hockey Association State Championships, taking place Saturday at Notre Dame's Compton Family Ice Center.
The Bulldogs will take on South Bend Adams in the 2A title game at 9:30 a.m., region time.
For Crown Point, this will be the third time in four seasons that it will be playing in a state championship game. For Gilbert, a Mantino High School student, and fellow co-captain and defenseman Bill Bening, a senior from Marian Catholic, this will be their third attempt at a championship.
"It's been a tough season for us, but I believe we're peaking at the right time," said Bening, who played on the Class 2A finalists in 2010 and the Class 3A finalists in 2012. Both Bulldog teams lost.
During the pool-play three-game series last weekend, the Bulldogs battled South Bend Adams to a scoreless tie. Earlier in the regular season, Crown Point defeated SBA 7-2.
Overall, it has been a down season for the Bulldogs, who are 16-19-7 going into the final game.
"We started the season 5-0, and that may have surprised some people," said senior center and co-captain Mitch Witham. "Then we hit a tough stretch and we began to struggle a bit."
"We also ran into some real tough teams during that stretch," senior goalie Robert Mazzaro said.
The Bulldogs are a fairly young team with only a handful of seniors and juniors.
"We also had a couple of our top players move on to play junior and midget hockey," Giffin said. "And that's what you want to see ... players moving up to the next level."
For Bening and Mazzaro, Saturday's game is due to be their last of their organized hockey careers. Witham and Gilbert, who are going to Indiana University and Illinois State University, respectively, both plan to play club hockey at their schools.
Bening and Mazzaro are also going to attend college next fall.
"But I'm going need a break from hockey," said Bening, who has been playing ice hockey since he was a toddler.
"So do I," Mazzaro said.
The Valparaiso Hockey Club is also playing for a state championship. It will face the Riley Hockey Club in the 1A title game at 7 a.m. Saturday in the same arena as Crown Point.