by RICK BLOOM
Shaker Heights Red Raiders Varsity Hockey Team
State Champions – 1971, 1972, 1974, 1981, 1993, 2001, 2013
THE BRUSH ARC HOCKEY TEAM, under the guidance of 1st year coaches Brian Przybyszewski and Nick Komma, on Friday evening (2/19) faced a task as formidable as did the USA hockey team 41 years ago on this day (2/22/80) against the invincible Soviet Union squad in the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, NY. In the first round of the OHSAA Hockey Tournament, the Arcs drew storied Shaker Heights as their opponent, in a game played at the Brooklyn Ice Rink. There were some similarities to the epic Olympic clash of 4+decades ago, which some still label the “greatest hockey upset in the history of the sport.” Much like the Soviets and their 7 GOLD medals in 9 Olympic appearances, Shaker Heights could boast a steamroller of a program, with 7 state championships to its credit. And, like the Soviets, the Shaker Heights color scheme of red & white made them somewhat intimidating to those familiar with such a comparison. The Red Raiders can also claim a hockey program vastly more experienced than Brush (see the link / article below celebrating 50 years of Shaker hockey – while the Arc icers have been in existence less than 1/5th of that).
One could even make the point that the level of competition that Shaker faces in a much tougher portion of the Greater Cleveland High School Hockey League (a division including hockey heavyweights St. Ed’s, Gilmour, U.S., Walsh, Padua, and Holy Name) is akin to that which the “veteran amateur” Soviets faced prior to the ’80 Olympics while our Arcs and the “truly amateur” USA team of ’80 competed against less talented foes before meeting against one another. But that, unfortunately, is where the resemblance of these 2 contests take divergent directions. While Brush and Team USA were pegged as massive underdogs against Shaker Heights and the USSR, respectively, only ONE of these encounters can be classified as a “Miracle On Ice” – and it did NOT take place this past Friday evening. The Red Raiders spent much of the evening treating the rink like their own version of the Ice Capades with scintillating teamwork, harmonious passion, and a synergistic strategy that the brown & gold have yet to master. As such, the Arcs, who finished their season 3-11 (but who had won 2 of their final 3 going in) were not able to challenge the Shaker skaters, falling by a tally of 15-0. On this night, it would have taken a record-setting goal-keeping performance (say, former Arc net-minder Michael Kornet’s 106-save effort 3 years ago ? See below for more on that) AND the 24 Brush goals in 3 games offensive output to close out the regular season – to replicate the incredulity on ice in upstate New York in early 1980. You can also re-live that momentous achievement in the final link of this posting.
Senior captain Seth Martin, Isaac Alexander, Matt Kendig and Faith Shook took the ice for the final time as seniors, and while the final numbers on the scoreboard were not what was hoped for – each of them left the rink knowing that a legacy of leadership, perseverance, steadfastness, and tenacity was bestowed upon their younger teammates – which is a victory of a different nature, perhaps, but no less valuable moving forward.
Shaker Heights High School Celebrates 50 Years of Hockey
Brush Hockey Rewind: Goaltender Mike Kornet sets state single-game saves record with 106 (January 19, 2018)
Miracle on Ice Highlights
(February 22, 1980)