Pope Francis (Springfield Cardinals) win USA Hockey national championship

Staff Reports
Published: 4/19/2021 8:59:02 PM

The UMass hockey team isn’t the only team on the ice that can lay claim to bringing a trophy back to Western Mass this year. 

The Pope Francis boys hockey team competed in the 2021 USA Hockey-Chipotle High School Division I National Championship tournament in Omaha, Neb. The event began last week, and the Cardinals went 6-0 overall while capping it off with a 3-0 victory over New Trier (Ind.) in the championship game on Monday. 

In the title game, Evan Phaneuf tallied two goals in the first period and Amherst’s Ryan Leonard put the game away with an empty-netter in the final minute. 

South Deerfield’s Ben Zaranek got the start and made 23 saves in the shutout. 

The Cardinals — who played in the tournament as the Springfield Cardinals — dominated throughout the five-day event. They opened on Thursday with a 16-1 beatdown of Jesuit College Prep and followed it with a 12-0 triumph over North Broward Prep on Friday. 

Springfield then beat Orange Lutherin, 5-1, on Saturday before earning an 8-0 shutout against the Brookings Rangers (So. Dakota) on Sunday.

The Cardinals advanced to the finals with a 7-3 semifinal win over Edina (Minn.) on Sunday. 

Leonard was the star of the show for Springfield, scoring 16 goals to go along with seven assists for a team-high 23 points during the six-game tournament. Zaranek played in five of the six games, finishing with a save percentage of .942 and allowing a mere three goals.

The Pope Francis roster features several players with Hampshire County ties. The club is coached by Brian Foley.

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