The St. Paul’s Crusaders are on top after defeating the River East Kodiaks 4-1 in the Milk Provincial AAA/AAAA hockey championships March 17.
The Crusaders were on top of their city league all year going 20-1 in the regular season.
Crusaders coach Andrew Harder said having other teams gunning for you makes it fun to play.
"You know you have to give everybody your best because everybody is looking forward to playing you," the phys-ed and economics teacher said. "We just had to make sure we were always ready."
One of those teams was River East Collegiate, which defeated the Crusaders 4-3 Dec. 17. The Crusaders came back to defeat the Kodiaks in the Winnipeg High School Hockey League’s Platinum Promotions Division city finals 6-4 on March 5, making the provincial final that much more intense.
Both Harder and Crusaders captain Kayden Jarvis definitely felt the pressure.
"It was a physical game, River East plays a physical style," said Harder, who was safe on the bench.
Jarvis, on the ice taking the punishment, said it made it interesting.
"You know that it’s not just a run and gun game, you’re not just out there trying to score," said the 18-year-old. "You’ve got to put the body on them, and they definitely put the body on us for sure, which made it difficult for us to get it going in the first period."
In the 2013 finals, the Crusaders watched from the stands after being eliminated by Stonewall in the quarter-finals.
Watching the seconds count down this year, Jarvis admits he was emotional.
"It was definitely very special for me and especially the Grade 12s who were on the ice," Jarvis said. "It made it even that much more special that I was able to be part of this team this year. We had an outstanding year. It was awesome that we were able to finish it off with both the city and provincial championships."
The Crusaders finished the season with a 26-1 record.