Colorado Springs, CO – This past weekend the St. Louis Snipers made the trip to Southern Colorado to take on the Suffolk Sting for their chance at PIHA’s Founders Cup. They took full advantage and walked away with their first championship and bragging rights until next season’s start in September. The Snipers came away with a convincing 4 games to 2 win over the Eastern Conference Champs. “The Snipers were tremendous throughout the playoffs. Walking through the division playoffs, and then knocking off the defending champs and finishing with a great Finals against a very good Sting team. There is obviously a new team to beat in the league,” said PIHA Founder, Charley Yoder.
Game one was a back and forth battle as teams went toe to toe answering one another. Tied at 2 heading into the second half the teams again scored back to back. With the game tied at 3, Shawn Gawrys and the Sniper power play took over scoring two late in the contest to put the score at 5-3. Game #1 to the Snipers.
The second of the seven game series was another close one and showed that special teams were going to be the key to the night. Again the power play took over late but this time it was the purple and yellow that made things happen. John Healy scored two on the power play in the second half to put the Sting up to stay and give them a 4-2 win. After the split on Friday both teams knew they were in for the long haul and would be back to CET Sports Arena not only Saturday night but also into Sunday.
Saturday night showcased games 3 and 4 and the Snipers were definitely more prepared as they took game 3 without trouble 5-1. A hat trick by Sniper forward Travis Bokina led the team to a third game win and the series lead. The Snipers would never look back as they took game 4 also with a 4-3 win. This one was a ton closer and one of the best games of the year to watch as both teams went up and down the floor in a fury. Jon Mosenson had the hot hand and all three Sting goals but 2 shorthanded goals (Bokina, Kettler) late in the 1st half proved to be too much to overcome for the Sting.
The Sting came into Sunday planning on playing 3 and they showed that they meant it in game 5 as the home team came out with a 4-1 win behind 16 saves by, 1st star, JP Susco. Brandon Nelson had his best game of the series with a goal and an assist. But game 6 would see the end to the Sting drive and would find the St. Louis Snipers victorious and hoisting the Founders Cup. The decisive game 6 was a classic goaltending duel as Dustin Brown (17 saves) and JP Susco (19 saves) shut down some of the league’s best offensive threats. The young guns for the Snipers, Sexton and Kettler, showed they belonged as they each scored in the opening half to put the Snipers up. A 2nd half goal by Sting captain Greg Thompson was just not enough as the Sting peppered Brown with shots but to no avail. The Sniper net minder was the difference as the Snipers skated away with the 2-1 win and the series.
Dustin Brown was named Finals MVP and took away some personal hardware for his efforts. “He was the best player on the floor. He’s so big in there but that’s not all he offers. The kid can flat out play,” says Thunder captain, CJ Yoder after watching the series. “He shut us down two weeks ago and then road that wave all the way here to Colorado. What a great kid and tremendous hockey player.