Ace Hardware Completes Underdog Story, Wins Inaugural "Celly Cup"

by Matt Harrington

The Celly League has its first-ever champion. 

Following a 4-2 win over Tradition Mortgage, Ace Hardware completed an impressive run of three wins in three days to claim the inaugural “Celly Cup”. 

#4 Ace dominated winless Pulltab Sports 7-1 on Friday and ousted top-seeded Tria 2-1 on Saturday. Perhaps the most energetic and hard fought contest of their playoff run happened on Sunday morning. 

A handful of Ohio State Buckeyes played a big role for Ace Hardware in this one. An NCAA national champion with the Buckeyes two seasons ago, Liz Schepers tallied the game’s opening goal just a few minutes in. Delaney Fleming, the former Shattuck St. Mary’s star and soon to be Buckeye, added another quick goal and the “big red machine” suddenly had an early 2-0 lead.

“It was great to be out there with those girls from Ohio State”, Schepers said. “We knew what we were getting with them and they absolutely delivered”. 

With just under 12 minutes remaining in the first half, Abby Boreen struck for Tradition Mortgage, cutting the lead in half at a critical time. Boreen used her speed to power past the Tradition Mortgage defense and bury it into the back of the net. The 2-1 lead of Ace would hold up until the halftime break. 

However, the lead would jump back up to two late in half two for Ace Hardware, following a goal from Long Island commit Sam Mathe. The former Wayzata Trojans’ goal put Ace in a prime position to hold on down the stretch. 

Abby Boreen would tally another goal for Tradition Mortgage to make things interesting at 3-2, but an empty net goal from Ace Hardware’s Emily Zumwinkle would all but seal the deal for Ace Hardware, who skated off with a 4-2 victory. 

The win completed an exciting playoff weekend for the Celly League, which had a noticeably faster and urgent feel to it compared to the regular season. 

“This whole’s weekend has been really great hockey, " said Schepers. Everybody definitely clicked it up a notch for the playoffs and it was awesome”. 

The Celly League has already had talks of expansion and new ideas for its second season, which promises to be a good one when it kicks off next summer. Until then, Ace Hardware rides off into the sunset as the defending champs.