McKay Flanagan and his prep school hockey team made history.
Flanagan, a Ridgefield born-and-raised senior defenseman, was a vital part of The Gunnery boys hockey team, which won its first-ever Division I NEPSAC (New England Preparatory School Athletic Council) Elite 8 championship with a 3-2 triumph over Milton (Mass.) Academy on Sunday at St. Anselm College in Goffstown, N.H.
Overcoming a rocky 3-4-1 start, Flanagan and The Gunnery finished the regular season with a 24-6-1 record to snag the fifth-seed in the Elite 8 — the New England prep school tourney regarded as one of the most competitive in the nation.
The Gunnery reached the final against Milton by winning consecutive road games against three-time reigning champ Salisbury, 3-2, and top-seed Avon Old Farms (and fellow Ridgefielder Adam Karashik), 5-3.
“It’s pretty surreal,” said Flanagan. “The best part about it all is that no one expected us to win [the Elite 8] except for ourselves. We knew how good we were. Our team is a pretty special group of guys. We owe a lot to our first-year head coach [Craig] Badger and the coaches for all they’ve done this year to help us reach this point.”
Flanagan finished the season with 15 points, on five goals and 10 assists, including two assists the New England tournament. In the fall, he will head across the continent to Langley, British Columbia, to ply his trade for the Langley Rivermen in the junior-pro British Columbia Hockey League.
“There’s nothing like winning a championship for your school,” said Flanagan. “Being the first team in Gunnery history to win a New England Championship is amazing, but I think more importantly I’m going to remember my coaches, teammates, and all the hard work we put in to accomplish this. The kids on this team are going to be some of my best friends for life.”
Notes: The Gunnery ended the season with a 27-6-1 overall record.
The Highlanders won three Division II championships before moving up to Division I in 1995.