State champion Pope Francis hockey team honored with pep rally
SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - A pep rally was held at Pope Francis Preparatory School on Tuesday to celebrate their boys hockey team bringing home the Division I state title over the weekend at TD Garden.
A sea of dyed blonde hair and red and white jerseys could be seen running into the Cardinal’s gymnasium on Tuesday as the entire Pope Francis student body cheered on their classmates. The team and head coach Brian Foley told Western Mass News the win is something they’ve been chasing for a long time.
“Honestly, I think 1952 was the last time for western Mass. to win an outright state title,” Foley said.
“Hasn’t been done in history for a Pope or Cathedral’s of the school hockey team. I just love to feel the energy everyone gives us,” added Joe DiMichele.
Foley added that the team had a lot to fight for this year including the players who missed their chance to lace up for the championship two years in a row due to the pandemic.
“We’ve been in the [TD] Garden a few times and lost two games in overtime, so I’m in for overtime the following year. We were going back third time, then COVID three days before the finals shut that tournament down. The following year was shut down as well,” Foley explained.
Western Mass News caught up with some of the players who were freshmen when the championship was canceled back in 2020. Now, as seniors, they were able to hit the ice one last time with their fellow Cardinals and take the trophy home.
“When it got canceled a few years ago, we wanted to have our chance to come back and obviously, we got the chance. We weren’t going to let it slip out of our hands,” said Colin Fouley.
“When we first got out there, coach told us to kind of take 60 seconds to take it all in the bright lights, kind of realize you’re here and then settled back in and then it’s game time just a normal game, just like we’re playing any other game at Olympia,” added Ryan O’Leary.
Senior Josh Iby scored the winning goal with 25 seconds left in the game. He told us what he was feeling in that moment.
“The second I got the puck and the second I saw across the line, I knew the game was going to be over and all I could think about running over the fan section was how incredible a moment this was,” Iby said.
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