The glory of their victory was quickly eclipsed by the COVID-19 shutdown of their school in March, but The Talawanda Brave hockey team triumphed in the Southwest Ohio High School Hockey championship during the 2019-2020 season.
The Brave defeated Beavercreek at Northland Ice Center in Cincinnati, in an 8-1 victory.
The Brave’s home arena is at Goggin Ice Center on the Miami University campus.
By winning the championship, first-year coach Zach Sens accomplished something that Talawanda had not done since 2004. The Brave were on a mission right from the start of the season, losing only one of their first 10 games.
“Great players make great coaches,” Sens said of his team and his success. While Sens said he implemented more creativity into the team’s strategy, he credited the players with buying into the program and the talent on the roster.
The team would fall only eight times throughout the season, eventually posting a 31-8-2 record before finally losing in the third round of the state tournament. By the third round the Brave had outlasted all other Cincinnati area teams. That was an accomplishment not only for the Brave, but for the Cincinnati region as a whole. The region was finally able to emerge and be recognized as an elite force in the Ohio hockey landscape.
The Brave possessed some strong leadership this past season with Ben Shrider, an honorable mention All-Ohio junior, putting up a considerable amount of goals and assists and Sens being named Coach of the Year. However, team leadership has come primarily from the seniors. It was the first year the team elected to have no individual captains and to just have the five seniors captain the team together.
In the team’s final game of the 2019-2020 season the Brave lost a 6-0 competition to the Upper Arlington Golden Bears.
The final four teams left in the state tournament were forced to cancel its games and end the season abruptly because of COVID-19. “I feel pretty fortunate that our seniors were able to play their last game,” Sens said. “Most hockey kids are on the lacrosse team and I feel for them because their season lasted only a week.”
This season put the Brave on the map and ended an 11-year championship drought. The team is excited to gain more momentum and build off this past season. With five seniors graduating, the Brave should have plenty of power to propel them to another fine season next year.