MAMARONECK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- Is there a dynasty in the making?
The Mamaroneck High School ice hockey team is heading up to Buffalo this weekend to attempt to win back-to-back state championships. While that may not be unique in certain sports, hockey in our state is usually dominated by teams living closer to Canada.
As CBS2's Lou Young reported, the defending Division I champions took the ice Thursday in Mamaroneck for one last practice before heading upstate for what could be a rare repeat at the top of a very competitive game.
"The last time it was done (was) 1997-98, 20 years ago. That's our team last year, the first Westchester County team ever to win a state championship in ice hockey," coach Michael Chiapparelli said.
There were 15 seniors on last year's team. This year, only 10 players returned, including both co-captains who've been coached by Chiapparelli since joining youth hockey leagues as kids.
"I put on my first hockey skates with coach Chap when I was in third grade at the Hommocks," forward James Torre said.
That's the same rink they're practicing on 11 years later. The Tigers only found out recently that coach Chap never played hockey as a kid, and didn't learn to skate until after he'd started coaching the sport.
"He told us that and I didn't believe him at first, but he's just an incredible coach," goalie Tommy Sperro said.
Of the four teams playing this weekend, Mamaroneck's semifinal opponent, Williamsville North, hails from Buffalo. The other semifinal pits Pittsford (Rochester) against Massena (northern tier). Most high school hockey followers usually don't expect downstate teams to do all that well. They didn't expect it last year, either.
"They were shocked we won last year, and they're going to try and knock us off this year," Chiapparelli said. "They don't want a downstate team winning their sport. They're playing 18 miles from home. They're going to sleep at home and come to the rink and play us. We're going to travel seven hours by bus, sleep overnight, get up, and play them toe-to-toe."
Mamaroneck (22-1-1) moved on in the state tournament with a 6-0 win over Monroe-Woodbury last week, but it expects this next round to be a lot more difficult.
Win or lose, it has been quite a season. Sperro has a state-record 20 shutouts to his credit during his high school career.
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