With the goal of defending its state championship, a 1-0-3 mark in December was hardly encouraging for the Christian Brothers Academy ice hockey team. Those three straight ties, however, were the best thing that could have happened to these Colts.
“We had 2-0 leads in those games,” said CBA Head Coach Andy Gojdycz. “We vowed that we would not do that again – that once we got a lead, we would hold onto it.”
True to their vow, the Colts did just that. They would finish off the 2021-22 season with a single-season record 26 consecutive wins, culminating in the NJSIAA Non-Public state championship. CBA’s 27-0-3 record put the Colts in the record book as putting together one of the greatest seasons in state history. The last time a team went through the season without a loss was 2007 when St. Augustine did it.
Gojdycz – who is a major part of CBA history, having won three straight NJSIAA titles when he played for the Colts from 1994-96 – noted that while his players were indeed talented enough to win a state title and individually all had high hockey IQs, it was something else that turned them into a historic team.
“The kids were willing to play for the player next to them,” said Gojdycz. “The kids were willing to work for each other. Everyone gets it.”
CBA polished off its undefeated season with a 3-0 victory over long-time rival Delbarton, which had tied the Colts, 2-2, back in December at the Prudential Center in Newark. In the rematch with a state title and undefeated season on the line, CBA would not be denied. Defenseman Patrick Reilly broke a scoreless tie in the second period, and then William Thygeson and Reilly again added tallies in the third period to bring home the program’s ninth state crown. Goalie John Donohoe was sharp, stopping all 22 shots Delbarton put on goal.
If possible, CBA actually upped its game in the postseason, putting the defensive clamps on opponents. Despite having the weight of a long winning streak on their shoulders, the Colts were never complacent. Starting with their 2-0 win over Don Bosco Prep in the Gordon Cup final (the Colts’ 10th title in the tournament), CBA shut out four of its last five opponents.
“We started blocking shots more, buying in to doing it for team,” said Gojdycz.
Colts had a veteran trio of defenders to build around, led by juniors Reilly and Michael Gravina and senior Jason Andreyev. They were there when the Colts won the 2020 Non-Public championship (2021 was canceled by the pandemic) and were the backbone of a deep unit. Reilly had a remarkable season, scoring 53 points on 11 goals and 42 assists.
Newcomers RJ Sun, Jack Skorupka, Connor Gagnon and Jack Cella gelled with veterans and gave CBA a deep unit.
With only one senior on the backline, CBA will have a brick wall in front of the net next year.
CBA had plenty of firepower led by senior Zachary Wagnon, who had 24 goals and 50 assists to lead in scoring with 74 points. Sophomore Christian Chouha (21) and senior Evan Brown (20) scored significant goals. Brown added 29 assists for 49 points and Chouha 13 assists. Junior Leighton Biesiadecki (14-21-35) and senior captain Aidan Guinnessey had 32 points on 16 goals and 16 assists and were key parts of the arsenal as well.
The Colts had the luxury of two superb goalies, both seniors. Donohoe had an outstanding .934 save percentage with 382 total saves during the season. Joseph Cartigiano had a .919 save percentage with 137 saves.
“We have players who put on the CBA uniform and want to play for the program,” Gojdycz remarked. “It’s the tradition since I was there.”
The Colts will look to add a third straight title to the program’s storied history next winter with a team that knows how to play together and win.
Photos by Larry Levanti