Memorial Cup momentum, canceled nationals trip fuels Homestead into state tournament

February 25, 2021



For the Homestead hockey team, winning this season’s Memorial Cup wasn’t just about repeating as the Fort Wayne Amateur Hockey Association’s high school city champions; it was also about getting the bad taste of the abrupt end to last season out of their mouths.

In March of 2020, the Spartans won Memorial Cup City - Fort Wayne Amateur Hockey Association’s high school league city championship – and had accepted an invitation to go to the USA Hockey high school national championships. That was until the tournament, like so many sporting events, were shut down.

“We had something to prove,” senior winger Zach Juarez tells “You don’t take it for granted. You have limited years where you got to do whatever you got to do. We knew we had something to do this year.”

Ten seniors graduated from last year’s team, but the remaining Spartans used the disappointment of missing out on nationals as a rallying cry. Juarez and fellow captains Antoine Nicol and PJ Isenbarger have taken younger players under their wings, and helped the entire teamwork through the challenges of the last year.

“We had a lot of obstacles, but we overcame them,” junior defenseman Antoine Nicol says. “We kept practicing, we kept working in the gym, and it all came together.”

Homestead beat city rival Carroll 3-1 in the Memorial Cup final on February 20. Goals came from Cody Fix, Brendan Asiala and Juarez.

The Spartans are 24-9-3, and head into the Indiana State High School Hockey Association playoffs as the No. 2 team in Class 3A.  They open up the tournament  against Valporaiso on Saturday, February 27, at the SportONE/Parkview Fieldhouse. The state championship games will be held the following weekend in South Bend.

“We’re confident for state, coming off this big win,” Nicole says. “We’re rolling, we’re buzzing, we’re definitely prepared.”

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