Derek Kohut, of Oswego, and Killian Rowlee, of Fulton and their Syracuse Nationals 2001 AAA PeeWee Major hockey team recently were crowned New York 12 and Under State Champions.
The team won its division in the New York State Amateur Hockey Association Tier 1 state hockey championships in Amherst March 7-9.
The Nationals started round-robin play Friday March 7 by beating the host Amherst Knights by a score of 6-4.
Later that evening, the Nationals dispatched of a very tough Buffalo Regals team by a 2-0 score. On Saturday March 8, the Nationals suffered their only defeat of the tournament, losing 2-1 to the Suffolk PAL Jr. Islanders, the top ranked AAA team in the state.
After round-robin play, the Nationals found themselves in first place in their bracket and moved on to the semifinals where they faced the Wheatfield Blades on Sunday March 9.
Wheatfield and Syracuse traded goals throughout the first and second periods, with the Nationals coming out on top 4-2.
The Buffalo Regals captured the other semifinal win against the Rochester Monarchs, setting up a rematch, later in the day, for the state title.
The state final game started fast and it appeared as if the Buffalo Regals were not going to be denied. The Nationals found themselves down by three goals (4-1) in the middle of the second period.
The Nationals dug down deep, and started to chip away at the Regals lead. Jimmy Rayhill of New Hartford scored first cutting the lead to 4-2.
Jeffrey Kopek of Camillus quickly added another goal and the Nationals found themselves down 4-3 at the end of the second period.
The Nationals came out on fire during the third period and outshot the Regals 12-3 with Josh Grund (Baldwinsville) tying the game.
The game then went into its first 10-minute sudden-victory overtime, with each team trading scoring chances, but ended in a tie. With three minutes left in the second 10 minute overtime, Killian Rowlee of Fulton gathered a clearing pass at center ice and skated deep into the Regals end.
Rowlee sent a pass to the front of the net where it was tipped in by Andy Hadasz of Utica, and the Nationals comeback was complete.
Both Derek Kohut (defense) and Killian Rowlee (forward) have been members of the 2001 Nationals team for the last four years.
Derek is a seventh-grader at the Oswego Middle School and Killian is a seventh-grader at the Fulton Junior High School.