Turns out it was an epic season for DeMatha hockey, but no one really saw it coming two weeks ago. WAY back then the squad had won just seven games and still seemed to be struggling. Heading into the play-in game of the Mid Atlantic Prep Hockey League (MAPHL) versus St. Alban's on 2/21, Coach Tony MacAulay said he was nervous. "I hadn't seen things pull together," he said. We were pulling things apart instead of pulling things together."
But pull together the Stags did in fact do, as the team beat St. Alban's that afternoon, 2-0. The next day, DeMatha beat Gonzaga, 6-2. Last Friday, the Stags shutout St. John's, 4-0, and then on Monday, in the MAPHL Championship Game, DeMatha beat Georgetown Prep, 5-2. Along the way, the Stags beat a #9 seed, a #2 seed, a #1 seed, and a #3 seed -- enough seeds went down to perhaps re-sod a proverbial garden! And the victories all came against teams DeMatha had NOT beaten during the season.
Of course, if any coach knew what elixir that brought the Stags success at the most opportune time, that coach would make millions. MacAulay can only hypothesize -- but certainly there was enough chemistry to (perhaps) make even Science Chair Rick Reeves smile. "We could tell by the ways guys were talking in the locker room that there was a change," he said. "We went from not seeing through one another but to seeing one another through (the game)."
This year's end run eerily mimics the success of the '08 squad which also won a state title -- in fact, it was the last time DeMatha won the "Big" league. That team too had just seven wins heading into the final playoff round and had to pull off numerous upsets to win the crown.
Ask any coach and they will tell you every team has its own personality. MacAulay believes the groundwork of this team's psyche was near completion with a late season trip to the University of Notre Dame for a tournament. "I told the guys to understand the school they are representing and to wear DeMatha clothing on the plane coming and going," he said. "I told them that they should expect perfect strangers to come up to them and ask them about the school. By the time we got to South Bend, about half of the team had already been approached! I really think it helped them understand just what DeMatha stands for. Our tradition and our integrity. What they are representing."
Without question, Coach was proud of the fact that his son, Kaleb, a senior, was an integral part of his 21st DeMatha team. MacAulay now has a 427-254-57 overall record. His teams have now been to 12 state championship games, winning half of those highly competitive contests. The Stags have also won four WCAC Championships in the six years a title game has been played.
As for history, DeMatha hockey teams have now been to 22 state final games, bringing 11 trophies back to Hyattsville. The DeMatha name will now go back on the banner at the Laurel Ice Gardens and there are very few, if any, schools that can match our successful history.