Pope Francis Hockey team recognized by city, state officials for championship win

Hampden County

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Mayor Domenic Sarno and other state and city officials recognized the Pope Francis Boys Hockey team Thursday morning for winning the USA Hockey Division 1 National Championship.

The Pope Francis team, which for purposes of the tournament played under the name “Springfield Cardinals,” shut out their opponent 3-0 on April 19 to become champions. The Cardinals outscored their opponents 51 to 5 throughout the national tournament.

“We kind of had expectations of a special year and with COVID, you just didn’t know what that meant. As far as the grit, determination and work ethic these display each and every day, it’s second to none really,” said Coach Brian Foley.

On Thursday, the team was honored at a ceremony at the high school. Mayor Domenic Sarno declared April 29, 2021 as “Pope Francis Boys Hockey Day” in the city of Springfield.

Senior Goalie Ben Zaranek told 22News what he will remember most about the trip to Omaha, Nebraska for the tournament, “It was definitely just taking the helmet off after we won and throwing the gloves and sticks and everything. Celebrating together, it was amazing.”

Captain Brandon Spaulding said it was a great way to end his senior year of hockey, “It was amazing. It was the best feeling for senior year. We have a tight group of boys and we worked really hard all year. To win a national was surreal.”

Mayor Sarno was joined by the following people at Pope Francis Preparatory School at 10:30 a.m.:

  • State Representative Bud Williams
  • State Representative Angelo Puppolo
  • State Representative Brian Ashe
  • City Councilor Michael Fenton  

The tournament, which began on April 15, took place in Omaha, Nebraska. The championship game was held at Ralston Arena in Omaha.

The cardinals outscored their opponents 51 to 5 throughout the national tournament. The team is losing six players to graduation next year.

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