Patriots claim state hockey championship

  • Thursday, March 15, 2012

Fort Dorchester forward Justin LeBlanc had a hat trick in Sunday’s state championship game.


Fort Dorchester upset the top seed during the 2012 South Carolina Scholastic Hockey Association championship tournament to capture its second state title and berth to the national high school tournament.
The Patriots handed Bishop England/Porter Gaud a 4-1 loss in the state championship game Sunday at the Carolina Ice Palace. Forward Justin LeBlanc had a hat trick for the Patriots and Goalie Dylan Belida made 24 saves to lift the Fort to the title.
BE/PG was the top seed for the tournament and had two prior wins over the Fort this season but the Patriots, the No. 3 seed, defeated the powerful conglomerate when it counted most.
“The big thing was the heart our guys showed,” Fort Dorchester coach Jeff Cliff said. “It blew me away how they stepped up. They put forth an incredible effort the entire tournament and played well as a team.”
Patrick McCardle had the Patriots’ fourth goal in the title game. Grayson Durham had two assists and Chandler Murphy and Danny Rowland also had an assist each. The Patriots took a 3-0 lead into the third period.
The Fort earned a 9-2 win over Greenville South and 5-4 win over the District 5 Fusion to advance to the championship game. Several Patriots got in on the scoring during those playoff games.
With the state championship, the Patriots advance to play in the national high school hockey tournament that will be held March 21-25 in Salt Lake City. The Fort went 2-1 in the tournament in 2010, the first year South Carolina sent a representative to Nationals.
Cliff, who was the team’s coach 2010, expects the competition to be fierce in Utah.
“The teams will have incredible talent,” Cliff said. “The New England teams are always good and Florida is also outstanding. We will need another great effort to do well there, but South Carolina has had success at Nationals the past two years. I’m just impressed with the dedication of our players, particularly our seniors. They will basically have to get off the plane from the trip and get dressed for the prom, but they are making the hockey their priority.”
That tournament will mark the last time seniors Derek Shiver, Hunter Kennis, Kyle Florich, Grayson Durham and Jordan Murphy will suit up as Patriots. However, the group leaves an impressive legacy.
The Patriots advanced to the state title game three of the last four seasons. In addition to the two state championships, the Patriot Class of 2012 helped claim regular season hockey titles in 2010 and 2011. In all, the Patriot program has earned four regular season championships.
Because hockey isn’t sanctioned by the South Carolina High School League, the Patriot team doesn’t receive funding from its high school and has to raise the money for the trip to Nationals itself. The Patriots are offering sponsorships for the trip. Anyone interested in helping out can call Cliff at 843-822-0165.
For more information on the team or league, including a complete Patriots’ roster, visit South Carolina Scholastic Hockey Association website at www.leaguelineup.com.

Contact Roger Lee @ 873-9424 ext. 213 or rlee@journalscene.com

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