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Tucson's inaugural High School hockey club makes a lasting impact, paves the way

By: Alexander Kinkopf
Photo: Shane Bailey            
They probably don't know it. But they will, eventually. Give time, time.
As the sport of hockey continues to evolve in Tucson, there are moments that will be discussed in recollect, teams that will be remembered, first-time instances that will pave the way for future growth; unforeseen growth that right now, you may not even be able to realistically comprehend.
With any organization, there are those pioneers, ones that act purely out of passion to push those who follow to the next level.
The Tucson High School Roadrunners team, consisting of players from seven different institutions, establishments stretching as far as Vail and Casa Grande, finished their inaugural season as the runner-up in Division 3 of the Arizona High School Hockey Association. This, to reiterate, in their first year of existence.
An outstanding accomplishment.
Though they fell short by way of a 3-2 score to Desert Vista High School in the State Championship game Sunday evening at the Ice Den Scottsdale, their 10-9-1 regular season record, followed by an incredible run to the final, is a feat that is nothing short of spectacular.
Heading into the second period facing a one-goal deficit, Alexander Perger sprung loose on a breakaway, and though denied, Koryn Kaczynski drove hard to follow the play, depositing a loose rebound to tie the game 1-1.
Photo: Shane Bailey            
Kaczynski’s goal embodied the team’s resiliency in a game where they were hard-pressed to push through with irrepressible resolve despite their tough luck in hitting three posts. Their efforts were valiant as they outshot the opponent 28-18, but the bounces didn't favor.
Trailing 3-1 with under four minutes left to play, Ranon Plett, outstanding throughout the night, shifted coverage as he burrowed into the offensive zone, circling behind Desert Vista’s net to feed Perger atop the crease, who found the back of the net through the five-hole.
Photo: Shane Bailey            
Goaltender Maxwell Eklund, who was marvelous and notably so in the game’s late stages to keep Tucson within striking distance as he stymied a pair of breakaway bids, was pulled for an extra attacker during the final minute of play, but without a tying goal to come as a result.
Let there be praise for the staff of Head Coach Daniel Lusher, Assistants Ryan DeJoe, Preston Smith and Frantisek Sobolic, Team Manager Michelle Raley, and Assistant Team Manager Corrina Eklund.
And of course, for the roster of 16 players that, whether they believe it or not, were a part of something far more special than the trophy that was at stake tonight.
In alphabetical order: Ryan Brooks #17, Liam Chatfield #12, Lucas Eklund #8, Maxwell Eklund #29, Ethan Gicewicz #10, Daniel Harwin #26, Koryn Kaczynski #7, Bradley Krakowicz #19, Sebastian Mascareno #77, Alexander Perger #9, Ranon Plett #3, Owen Raley #23, Riley Ring #15, Na’im Temlock #35, Phoenix Walters #66, Maddox West #18.
Absolutely magnificent.
Photo: Shane Bailey