When Brendan Buckley got on the public address system late last week and urged Xavier students to come out and support the team vs. unbeaten Ridgefield in Saturday's Division I quarterfinal game, he said something about shocking the hockey world.
Who knows how many people really thought Xavier could win that game, but Buckley and fellow senior captains Trevor Earley and Chase Maxwell did. They believe. The coaches believe. Heck, the whole team believes.
The Xavier Falcons, which by now is well documented but still worth pointing out, were 1-7 on Jan. 11. On Feb. 2, the Falcons were 3-9-1. Since that time they have gone 7-1-1 and are 10-10-2.
Xavier knocked off West Haven 9-1 in its first playoff game, scoring four goals in about a five-minute span in the second period to take a 6-1 lead. It was a blur.
Then came Ridgefield, which was 22-0 and had dreams of an unbeaten season. Enfield won a Division I title by going undefeated in 1983. Craig Janney, who would go on to play for the Boston Bruins, was on that team.
But Ridgefield was about to be stunned. Nick LeClair scored in overtime to give Xavier a 3-2 victory, and just like that one team's dream season ended.
Now do you believe?
"It shows what this team has," Buckley said. "A lot of grit."
Even during the down times?
"We had a feeling we'd be at this point," Maxwell said.
Xavier plays Fairfield Prep Wednesday night at 7:30 in the second semifinal at Yale's Ingalls Rink. Northwest Catholic plays Notre Dame of West Haven in the 5:30 p.m. semifinal.
Xavier was twice down a goal to Ridgefield.
"The kids never leave anything on the ice," Xavier coach Kyle Heins said. "They're always prepared. We knew what kind of team we had, and we've never lost sight of our goal, to win a state championship.
"The kids have bought into the system, are having fun, and have embraced the role of the underdog."
Of course, after knocking off the No. 1 team in the state, that underdog role becomes something else.
"Everything clicked vs. Ridgefield, from top to bottom, and they knew it in that locker room," Heins said. "It was wonderful to be a part of that."
Still, there's unfinished business.
"We're focusing on Wednesday and we're ready to go," Earley said.
Xavier High School is a private, Catholic all-boys school in Middletown, CT.