With a roster loaded with underclassmen, St. Paul's coach Sam Kaplan said he needed more leadership. So halfway through the season, he moved senior Whit Schweizer from goalie to forward.
The move looked brilliant Friday in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference championship game against Gilman. Schweizer scored the game-winner with 50 seconds left to lift the Crusaders to a 3-2 victory at Piney Orchard Ice Arena in Odenton.
"He is such a great leader," said Kaplan, noting Schweizer hadn't played forward on a regular basis since he was six or seven years old competing for Baltimore Youth Hockey. "He really rose to that challenge."
Ned Moreland and Ian Powderly also scored for St. Paul's to give the Crusaders their first ice hockey title since 2009.
St. Paul's enjoyed a 2-0 lead in the first period.
Moreland scored 28 seconds into play, beating goalie Spencer Perry to the left corner on a wrist shot. Then with 8:02 remaining in the first period, Powderly found the back of the goal on a feed from Mitchell Haigley.
Forty-six seconds later, Gilman (8-5) cut the lead to 2-1 when Spencer Morris fired a shot between the legs of goalie Mason Koster.
James Cole added a goal for the Greyhounds midway through the second period.
In the MIAA A Conference championship, Calvert Hall posted a 7-4 win over over Archbishop Spalding thanks to two goals each from senior Costa Pizanis and junior Matthew Curtin.
Calvert Hall coach Mike Shramek said the year's team was his best offensive group in 13 years and the Cardinals showed that ability in the first period.
They jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first five minutes on goals by Pizanis, Curtin, Trey Gauss and Ryan Dieter.
Calvert Hall (18-2-2) went ahead 5-0 early in the third period before Spalding fought back with three goals in a four-minute period, including getting two from senior Matt Doane.
The Cardinals then scored two straight to end the comeback bid and garner their first title since 2010.
"It was nice because no one in our dressing room had won a championship before," said Shramek, whose team had captured three consecutive titles, starting in 2008. "It's special for everybody. The expectations were higher for the playoffs because this was the first time we went through the regular season without a league loss. Most years, it felt like we were playing the underdog role."
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