Every high school coach always has high hopes for their team when beginning a new season. Despite playing a season through the midst of a pandemic Chagrin Falls Tigers hockey head coach Jim Revak certainly felt that his team could make a deep postseason run. Championship-caliber teams can sometimes stumble their way through the opening part of the season before having that one game where everything falls into place.
That game came on Jan. 10 when the Tigers traveled to the Ice Zone in Youngstown to take on Greater Cleveland High School Hockey League Blue North Division rivals the Canfield Cardinals. The Cardinals were playing a physical game and took a 3-1 lead on Chagrin Falls after the first period. Chagrin Falls came right back and matched the Cardinals’ intensity to mount a comeback and win the game. That’s when coach Revak knew that this team was going to have a good year.
“That just proved to me that we can play any kind of game that another team would throw at us. After that game I knew we really had something because up to that point we hadn’t really gelled as a team yet but once we had that comeback victory against Canfield I knew we had something special,” he said.
The Tigers’ icemen just kept the momentum rolling all the way up to the Baron Cup III tournament. There was no stopping them from reaching the finals as they routed Nordonia 11-1 on Feb. 8 in the quarterfinals then dispatched Lakweood by a 7-3 margin in the semifinals on Feb. 12. Chagrin Falls capped things off with a 6-4 victory over Canfield to clinch its first Baron Cup Championship since the 2008 season on Feb. 8 in Brooklyn.
The Tigers played from in front in each game of the tournament and that was no different in the Championship game. Senior center Tyler Bookman led the charge as he put the Tigers on the board with a lamplighter at the 13:12 mark off an assist from sophomore forward Elliot Despres. Fellow senior forward Garrin Bunker deked out the Cardinals’ goalkeeper and pushed the lead out to 2-0 with a goal at the left bar.
Senior forward Chase Lowry extended the lead by lighting the lamp with 6:57 left in the first period. Bookman was credited with the apple after catching a rebound. Senior forward Jase Roman joined in on the fun with a lamplighter at the 10:10 mark in the second period on a power play to push the lead out to 4-0.
“That certainly puts the other team on alert and trying to play defensive and then they have to take risks,” said coach Revak, “We can capitalize on that but again with the depth that we did have this year we were able to run three strong lines at them.”
Canfield senior center Brian Woak brought the Cardinals right back with three unanswered goals. His third goal came with 11:08 left in regulation and Canfield seemingly had all the momentum. Chagrin Falls didn’t panic as it took Bookman only 20 seconds to pad the lead with his second goal of the game. The Tigers’ senior made it a hat trick by lighting the lamp once more at the 6:43 mark to give Chagrin Falls the cushion.
The Tigers’ seniors had been the backbone of the team all season. Coach Revak had the fortune to stack each line with at least two upperclassmen so it was only fitting for every goal to be scored by a senior in the Championship game.
“This is pretty much the culmination of their efforts since they were little kids. In this really difficult season in which we were quarantined twice just the fact that we were playing games was difficult. We just felt extremely fortunate to play in the tournament and then have a chance to win it and ultimately the seniors wanted it bad enough,” said coach Revak.
It’s a big milestone for the Chagrin Falls’ head coach as well as this is his first time hoisting the Baron Cup trophy. When the Tigers won it all in 2008 Revak was still the coach at neighborhood rival Kenston.
Chagrin Falls’ season is not over yet. The Tigers will play an exhibition game against Stow-Monroe Falls at the Pond on this Friday evening then will face off against the University School Preppers on Sunday afternoon in Brooklyn for their opening game of the Brooklyn East District tournament.