MASSENA - The sirens blaring through the streets of Massena Sunday night werent for an emergency.
They were welcoming home the Massena Red Raiders hockey team, who earlier in the day captured the New York state Division I high school championship with a 4-1 victory over Ithaca.
The teams bus arrived home under police escort, starting in Gouverneur, then to Canton and finally to Massena. The New York State Police, U.S. Border Patrol and U.S. Customs and Border Protection each had two or more vehicles leading the team into Masssena. The Massena Rescue Squad sent its complete fleet for the procession and, with their sirens blaring and emergency lights flashing, the Massena Volunteer Fire Department and Massena Police Department escorted the team for the final leg of the journey to the Massena Arena.
Supporters stood along Main Street to applaud the players as they raised their heads out of the bus window and lifted their finger in the air to announce, Were number one.
Another crowd waited at the Massena Arena on the blustery evening to welcome them home with shouts of joys, banners, hugs and high fives. Each player was introduced individually as he disembarked from the bus into the crowd of excited fans.
Its just amazing, sophomore Ben Sprague. Its the best feeling Ive ever had.
Its a great day to be a Red Raider, said coach Mike Trimboli, who was named Division 1 coach of the year. Team captain Tyler Young was named the New York state Division 1 high school player of the year, and he and Devin Page were named to the All-Tournament Team.
Mr. Trimboli said he appreciated the crowd support, including a large contingent that traveled to Utica.
I thank everybody from this town and village for coming out here and supporting these boys. You are truly our seventh man, Mr. Trimboli said.
The atmosphere in Utica was just tremendous. The Massena crowd was four time the size of the Ithaca crowd, said Jerry Manor, who called the game on WMSA radio.
The wins didnt come easy, Mr. Trimboli said, but the team sacrificed everything they had to make sure they came home the champions.
They sacrificed. They traveled the hard road, he said. They stayed steady. They stayed true.
He also paid homage to the late Louis Trevino, who was known as the Red Raiderss biggest fan
I had to blow the (fire) siren because Louies not here to blow the whistle, he said.
Six seniors will graduate with the state title on their resume - Josh Blair, Cameron Marsh, captain Tyler Young, Jeremiah Reagan, Ryan Thomas and Connor Paquin. But it was a full team effort, according to the coach.
Tournament MVP Patrick Manning scored twice to lead the team in the championship game. Dylan Stone scored the game winner at 7:43 of the second period, and Ryan Thomas sealed the victory with the empty netter with less than a minute left in the game.
All-Tournament goalie Connor Paquin had 16 saves for Massena.
Mr. Manor said, from his vantage in the press box, he saw a Massena team that got better as the season went on.
I was confident going in. Massena has just been getting better. Ithaca came out and tried to slow down the game, but Massena stuck to their game plan. Connor Paquin brought his A game. He made some tremendous saves and the Massena defense stepped up. Each player on that team contributed. Thats how you win championships, playing as a team, he said.
This was the teams sixth state championship since 1980, and their first since 2008.
I just think its great for the kids. You see the excitement in their face. When you see that, you know its worth it, Athletic Director Tim Hayes said. Any time you can get to this point, anything can happen. Theyre a confident bunch.
Its a bittersweet moment for the players, he said.
The coaches and athletic director are here for the long haul. The kids only get a chance at this once. Mike does a great job with the kids, he said.
When the moment arrives, its time to savor it, said Mr. Manor, who has been the Raiders hockey play-by-play radio man for 31 years.
Believe me, folks, it never gets old, he said.