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2023 State Champions-Claim First State Title!

By MS, 03/13/23, 10:15AM EDT


Yes! Yes! Yes! Finally! After 50+ years of organized high school ice hockey in Genesee County, your 2023 Flint Powers Catholic Chargers became the FIRST and ONLY team in the Flint area to finish the job!

Powers has won 33 league championships, 35 regional championships, made 22 trips to the frozen four and appeared in the state finals 7 times, with the most recent in 2010 losing to Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook 3-1.

On Saturday, March 11, 2023, on the eighth trip to the USA Hockey Arena, the Flint Powers coaching staff led by head coach Travis Perry and assistants: Bruce Lundeen, Matt Walker, and Jordan Uhelski, captured their most prolific victory, winning the D3 State Championship in dramatic fashion over East Grand Rapids 3-2. This monumental triumph will not only secure a future spot in the Flint Area Sports Hall of Fame but sear in the minds of the local community for years to come.

Bringing home the hardware to Flint Town has been a perpetual goal of Charger Nation as well as many other high schools for decades. This victory was incredibly unique and runs deep in so many people.

Why so deep? Well, if you grew up in the Flint area participating in the GFHA-Greater Flint Hockey Association or the EMHA-Eastern Michigan Hockey Association, you probably wore your ugly GFHA green and yellow jacket or EMHA jacket with the patches of your latest hat trick, playmaker, tournament attended, affixed to the front or the sleeve with immense pride. You probably practiced at the outdoor rinks such as Flint Memorial Park, Broome Park, Whaley Park, or a flooded playground in the neighborhood. You probably attended the Flint minor league hockey games of the Flint Generals, Flint Spirits, Flint Bulldogs and watched the Red Wings training camp at the IMA Sports arena (Dort Financial Center). You probably purchased your hockey equipment from the original Perani’s hockey store (with the Pet shop) on the corner of Vernon/Davison Rd, down the street at RC Sports or you rented your skates from King Par and equipment from the basement of the IMA. You probably played street hockey with the inconvenience of moving your net repeatedly, every time a car wanted by, on a street named after a state, dreaming of making it to the NHL but more importantly representing your local high school in the playoffs hosted at the IMA in arena 1 and arena 2. Finally, you probably were influenced by a neighbor, friend, uncle, grandpa, brother, or father to take skating lessons and eventually lace up the skates.

So, as you can see, the colossal victory on March 11, 2023, was not just the FIRST State Title for the current Powers team, coaching staff, and school, it was the FIRST for all Genesee hockey alumni for the last 50+ years!

Onto the State Championship recap:

The Powers Chargers entered the first period as if they were providing a continuation of their semi-final dominance. Out of the gate, the Chargers Weston Reinig attempted a quick wrap around but only to be denied by senior netminder Austin Stankowski. At the 10:56 mark, the Chargers leading goal scorer “Czar” Mason Czarnecki used his long legs and determination to

fight off the Pioneer defender cutting to the net, pausing Stankowski, then snapping it to rear netting. All the play seemed to gravitate to the Pioneer defensive zone. With three minutes left in the first, defenseman Jack Dawley displayed his mature patience once again, circled the net and alertly found sophomore Brody Neelands on the blue line. Neelands let one rip through traffic to the net, catching the goaltender by surprise, to lift the Chargers to an early 2-0 start.

The East Grand Rapids Pioneers seemed to encounter a shot in the arm as they entered the second period. The pendulum started to swing the other way as the Pioneers notch a quick goal.

The Chargers found themselves exhausting off a couple undisciplined penalties until the 8:55 mark of the third period. That is when, the Pioneers broke through the stout PK unit, delivering the equalizer at two apiece. Shortly after, the Chargers were given their own power play opportunity but could not assemble any threatening scoring chances. With the clock fading closer to a potential overtime duel, the unthinkable happened. Off the draw, Czarnecki tried to clear the loose puck out of the Charger zone. With no such luck, the Pioneer defender sent it toward the Charger net. The puck landed in the vicinity of Cooper Gerhardt as he muscled off the Pioneer player. Gerhardt quickly gained control, sending a laser dime through the neutral zone, connecting with Czarnecki. Czar broke away, in all alone, sniping Stankowski blocker side with only 4.6 seconds remaining. The arena was complete pandemonium! The Dynamic Duo play of Gerhardt and Czarnecki, cemented in the 2023 Flint Powers Catholic Chargers as the only team to ever get it done in Genesee County. The 23 saves by goaltender Nicholas Kurtiak served to be the backbone of the Charger’s 23rd team win.

Congratulations on your accomplishment as the 2023 D3 State Champions!

2022-2023 Overall Record: 23-6