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Vianney beats CBC to claim first Mid-States title since 1996

Vianney beats CBC to claim first Mid-States title since 1996

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03/11/2020 - Challenge Cup - CBC vs Vianney

Vianney players celebrate their victory with the student section in the Mid States Hockey Challenge Cup championship game played on Wednesday March 11, 2020 at the Enterprise Center in St. Louis City, MO. Rick Ulreich special to STLhighschoolsports.com

Vianney needed an MVP performance from its goalie.

Nicholas Niemeier delivered.

The senior goaltender made 31 saves to lead Vianney to a 3-2 win over CBC in the Mid-States Club Hockey Association Challenge Cup championship game at Enterprise Center on Wednesday night. Niemeier was named the game’s MVP.

“This is how I wanted it to turn out, but being the MVP, I didn’t really expect it,” Niemeier said. “I’m just trying to give my team a chance to win.”

Vianney snapped a 46-game losing streak to CBC going back to 2007. It is the third Mid-States championship for the Golden Griffins and first since 1996.

Blake Kern, Alex Fendler and Will Gruener scored for Vianney (20-8-1).

“We all wanted to do it since we were freshmen and we’re just wanting to keep going and put this program back on the map,” Niemeier said.

Thomas Ramer and Riley MacInnis scored for CBC (27-2). Ryan Yaeger and Matt Smith combined for 17 saves.

Kern gave Vianney a 1-0 lead with 6:20 left in the first period. Timothy Pazdernik started the 2-on-1 break and his shot kicked out to the high slot, where Kern found the upper corner.

The Griffins scored twice in an 18 second span to start the second period.

Gianluca Boccardi got it going by forcing a turnover in the CBC zone and slid it to Fendler who went low glove. Gruener scored off the ensuing faceoff on a rush off of a feed from his younger brother Tom Gruener to make it 3-0 Vianney with 11:34 left in the second.

CBC regrouped after a timeout following the quick salvo.

“I thought we were getting better of the play,” CBC coach John Jost said. “I think we just needed to get a little more traffic and just play a little harder in front of them and they responded.”

Ramer’s unassisted goal found its way through a maze of players in front of the net to get the Cadets on the board with 9:04 left in the second.

MacInnis scored just 45 seconds later to cut Vianney’s lead to 3-2. Benjamin Kleinschmidt got it started by winning a faceoff deep in the Vianney zone and Connor McCaffrey slid it to MacInnis, who ripped a slapper from the right point.

“We were moving too far ahead of ourselves,” Vianney coach Brian McGlynn said. “We had to take the game back. We gave up the middle of the ice. We were backing in our zone. We had to attack, put some inside-out pressure deep in their zone and make them make some mistakes.”

Niemeier and the Vianney defense made the lead hold.

“Most of these playoff-type games come down to goaltending, and we got an excellent (goalie),” McGlynn said. “Nick I didn’t expect nothing less than the way he’s been playing.”

Niemeier got his shoulder on a Hunter Bulger drive late in the second period and made several saves as the Cadets turned up the pressure in the third looking for the equalizer.

“A couple of my teammates came up to me and said, ‘Hey, this is your night just keep going,’ ” Niemeier said after to two quick CBC goals. “ ‘We’ll get you.’ ”

The Griffins’ defense rose to the occasion as Joey Boccardi erased a chance for Tony Andrews with an open ice body check.

“It was the longest game I’ve ever played,” Joey Boccardi said. “It just felt like it took forever and especially those last few minutes, just icing after icing and I just couldn’t even, it felt like it was an hour.”

History didn’t repeat itself for CBC.

“This team came back all year long,” Jost said. “We won some games early on in the year that we probably had no business winning and we came back twice against this very same team. … It just wasn’t meant to be.”

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