Joey Banks and Luke Schaub are two of the closest teammates on the Archbishop Spalding High hockey team.
They spent all summer working on their game together, going to stick-and-pucks every night.
Their reason: To get to the MIAA A Conference championship.
Their moment arrived Thursday at the Gardens Ice House in Laurel, and they did not disappoint. Banks scored the lone goal in the game, and Schaub was a brick wall in goal as the Cavaliers held off Calvert Hall, 1-0.
It’s the first championship since 2019 for Spalding (8-8-3 overall) and fifth overall. Cavaliers coach Rob Trantin was almost speechless afterwards Thursday.
He felt that a higher power could have been at play. Banks lost his father a few years ago. Schaub transferred to Spalding when his previous school’s hockey program folded.
“There was just something bigger tonight,” Trantin said. “It was just special.”
Spalding and Calvert Hall battled for the first 41 minutes of the game. Back-and-forth, neither team found great chances to open the scoring.
So when the puck fell to Banks and he slotted it home, his celebration was well earned. He skated through the neutral zone toward the Cavalier fans.
“It was just pure joy,” Banks said. “I thought about my father, who passed away a few years ago. I still think about him every day. I thought he was with me in that moment.”
After Banks’ goal, Schaub was next in the spotlight. The Cardinals quickly earned a power play chance.
Five Calvert Hall shots made their way toward Schaub the next two minutes, none of them made it past his glove. He made three more saves in the final minute as the Cardinals brought an extra attacker.
With so many bodies in the way, Schaub said it was hard to see the puck coming in.
“There was definitely one that was a little iffy,” Schaub said. “It happened. I’m so super thankful for it. This is one of the greatest experiences of my life.”
The Cardinals (9-8-3) had their chances Thursday.
Calvert Hall coach Paul Kansler knew if the puck bounced a different way, maybe his team would have been celebrating a second straight championship.
“We gave it all we got,” Kansler said. “1-0 game in the championship game, that’s all you can ask for.”
Trantin knew the struggles that players like Banks and Schuab had gone through. His emotions could finally be released as the final buzzer sounded Thursday night and his team streamed onto the ice, gloves, sticks and helmets flying into the air.
“No group that I’ve had has had less and done more with it,” Trantin said. “That’s really what this group is about, the sum is greater than all the parts. I can’t say enough about them and how proud of them I am.”