ST. JOHN | While honoring protocol of a team with some unfinished business on its agenda, the Lake Central Indians avoided contact with the traveling Roper Cup trophy like it was filled with anthrax.
Indians head coach Brian Black was at least glad his players got to know what it looks like up close.
"This is the first and only one for our graduating seniors," Black said of the Illiana High School Hockey League Tournament championship cup, which the Indians won with a 5-2 victory over Munster, Feb. 23 at Midwest Training and Ice Center.
Lake Central was the top seed in the four-team tourney after posting a 7-2 record in league play. Both those losses came early in the season, including a 2-1 setback against the Mustangs.
"But we're hitting our stride right now," said Black, whose team advanced to the final with a 3-0 semifinal victory over Homewood-Flossmoor the weekend before. "Our minds are all running and flowing together. Our three lines are playing great, and I have confidence in all of them whenever they're out there."
The Mustangs drew first blood about nine minutes into the first period. Kyle Holdcraft scored a power-play goal with Cayden Colyer and Tyler Mehay assisting.
Lake Central tied it 19 seconds into the second period with Quinton Oster scoring and Evan Bukowski assisting. But 15 seconds later, Munster regained the lead with a goal from David Rowe (Doug Yokovich assist).
The Indians responded with four unanswered goals by Anthony Zuccolo (Daniel Starcevich assist), Starcevich (unassisted), Oster (Tommy Lisac assist) and Jakob Davis, who found an open net from mid-ice in the final seconds of regulation.
Lake Central goalie Lawrence Pezzuto was credited with 17 saves.
The Indians had previously won the Roper Cup in 2006 and 2009. They have also netted two state titles (2003 and 2005), and will be going for a third when the Indiana State High School Hockey Association championships commence today.
"But this is the first time in school history that we have qualified for the 4A (class) bracket," Black said. "It was based on our record and the strength of schedule."
Today at the Lutheran Health Sports Central Canlan Rink in Ft. Wayne, the Indians will take on Brebeuf Jesuit at 1:45 p.m. and Zionsville at 9:15 p.m., then will finish the pool-play round 1:45 p.m. Sunday against Penn.
Munster is in the 3A bracket and will play Evansville at 11:30 a.m. today at Fishers (Ind.) Forum One, South Stars Blue at 7:30 p.m. today at Fishers Forum Two, and the Carroll Chargers at 12:30 p.m. Sunday at Fishers Forum Two.
Crown Point, which lost to Munster in overtime during the Roper Cup semifinals, will play Carmel (8:30 a.m. today), Bishop Dwenger (4 p.m. today) and Adams (8:30 a.m. Sunday) at Fishers Forum Two in the 2A bracket.
Championship games for all classes -- 1A through 5A -- will take place next Saturday at Notre Dame's Compton Family Ice Arena.