Wildcats Win Division II Hockey Crown

The Wildcats celebrate their Div. II state championship. Photo credit: Taylor Kemp Photography

The Wildcats celebrate their Div. II state championship. Photo credit: Taylor Kemp Photography

On March 12, 1983, Fermi High School senior Scott Kertanis led the Falcons to their first-ever ice hockey state championship, beating South Windsor 8-5 to win the Div. II crown at the now-defunct New Haven Coliseum.

Thirty-two years and nine days later, Kertanis was back in the Elm City and watched his son continue the legacy, returning the title to north-central Connecticut.

Shane Kertanis made 23 saves, including a half-dozen of the spectacular variety, to lead Suffield-Granby-Windsor Locks to a 4-1 victory over North Branford in the Div. II championship game at the Ingalls Rink at Yale University.

“It’s an honor to even be talked about in the same line as my dad,” the senior goaltender said. “It’s an amazing feeling, and I really wanted to do this tonight for him. He’s the one that put me on skates, and I can’t thank him enough for that.”

The elder Kertanis was beaming waiting for the Wildcats to emerge from their victorious locker room.

“I think this is bigger than when I won it,” he said. “I’m so thrilled for these boys, I got to coach a lot of them, and am absolutely thrilled for them. I’ve been there before, and I can feel what they’re feeling. It’s unbelievable.”

Jake Bourdeau and Jake King each had a pair of goals for the winners.

Bourdeau, a sophomore, got things going with the only goal of the first period at the 12:20 mark, netting a power play tally after some furious action in front of Thunderbird goaltender Will McEwen.

“Once we got that first one, we got motivated,” Bourdeau said.

“We’d been talking about getting off to a hot start early, and Jake has just been an unsung hero for us,” Wildcat head coach Nick Boorman said. “He has a good amount of goals, but he does all the little things right in terms of neutral zone battles and he breaks the puck out. He’s just a complete hockey player.”

Kertanis, who had made an excellent glove save off a hard wrister by Alec Martone in the final minute of the first period, opened the middle session by denying a bid by Dominic Raccio in close. He then prevented a score by sweeping the puck away after one of his own defenseman crashed into him near the goal line.

“I really was focused, and I gave a little speech to the boys before (the game), and I pretty much laid it on the line saying I’m going to give everything I’ve got and I expect the same from them,” Kertanis said. “They kept their side of the bargain, so I had to as well.”

Near the midpoint of the game, King knocked in a rebound to make it 2-0. A few minutes later, he had a partial breakaway, but was unable to get off a good shot.

In the opening minute following the second intermission, Kertanis made a pad save off a slapshot by Matt Chamberlain, then stopped a rebound attempt by Jordan Glenn. He then denied Martone on two good opportunities.

Bourdeau took a centering pass and beat McEwen with 5:24 to play to open up a three-goal advantage.

“I just went hard to the net and (Colin) MacDougald made a nice pass,” Bourdeau said. “That kind of sealed the deal and we had that win and the state championship.”

In desperation, North Branford coach Ralph Shaw pulled his goalkeeper following a Jake Pallotti penalty, giving the Thunderbirds a 6-on-4 power play. That strategy backfired, however, when King scored into the empty net with 4:01 remaining.

The Thunderbirds broke the shutout when Martone scored a power play goal on a slapshot from the point. Shaw again pulled McEwen in favor of a sixth attacker, but Glenn was assessed a five-minute major penalty for charging, ending North Branford’s hopes for a comeback.

MacDougald and Brendan Looney each had two assists for the Wildcats, while Mitch Bielonko and Austin Rupp contributed one apiece.

The title victory was the third overall for the Wildcats, and first since 2000.

“This has been an absolute surreal feeling,” Boorman said. “This team earned it 100 percent, and I couldn’t be happier.”

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