Times Argus Boys Hockey Player of the Year Jace Boerger had a season that was littered with clutch performances, even though he was a marked man in almost every game.
The center forward led Stowe to a 13-6-2 record, good enough to earn the No. 3 seed in the Division I playoffs. Recording 16 goals and 20 assists, Boerger was critical in creating the well-rounded offense that beat all but one of the opponents the Raiders faced.
“He’s probably the strongest player on his edges in D-I hockey,” Stowe co-coach Peter Duncan said. “He’s a fast and elusive center and he’s reliable in any position in any situation. He’s always a threat, and he was a key component of our top power-play and penalty-kill units.”
Earning a trip to the Rotary All-Star game, Boerger had the chance to play on an all-Stowe line with fellow seniors Max Carr and Nate Rice. Although Boerger trailed Carr for the team lead in points during the season, his impact on both ends of the ice set him apart.
“He was really the full two-way player,” Stowe co-coach Chris Eaton said. “In the defensive end he was breaking the puck out and getting it to a lot of the edges. That allowed Max to thrive and score those points. Max flourished because Jace attracted a lot of attention, and that would spring Max free a little bit. Jace is a very strong kid and he’s really hard to knock off the puck. And when he got going, he could change the whole tide of the game. He’s probably the fastest kid on our team, he won a lot of face-offs that we needed, he can carry the puck. He can do a little bit of everything.”
Boerger was red-hot at the start of the season, guiding his team during a seven-game unbeaten streak that included a 6-2 victory over Harwood. During Middlebury’s Fletcher “Buster” Brush Tournament, the Raiders trailed the home team 1-0 with 1:30 remaining before Boerger rose to the occasion.
“Jace just decided to take it over,” Eaton said. “He skated the puck all the way down and scored a goal. And then with 30 seconds left he did the same thing and dominated a play. Jace just decided it was time to put the puck in the net, and he made it happen.
Boerger was also instrumental in his team’s season sweep over Spaulding with victories of 7-1 and 6-3. He also led Stowe to a 4-1 win over eventual champ Essex, a 4-3 win over CVU and 7-5 win over South Burlington. Another high point came late in the season when he netted a hat trick and two assists at D-I finalist Rice, sparking a 6-5 victory.
“That was a big one because we weren’t playing well defensively and we needed to score goals in order to have a chance,” Eaton said. “And so Jace and Max put the team on their shoulders offensively and made it happen.”
Stowe and Peoples Academy completed their fourth season as a cooperative team, relying heavily on their senior leaders to find success at the D-I level against much larger schools.
“Being a small squad playing in Division I, without strong leadership I don’t think we could have done it nearly as well as we did,” Eaton said. “Jace is a pure hockey guy. He loves the team and puts the team before himself. On the ice he led the way as far as getting the team to play together.”
Boerger is not only a complete hockey player, but he also excels on the soccer and lacrosse fields. Last fall, he scored the game-winning goal in the soccer championship, lifting the Raiders to their seventh straight title.
“He’s a really good student as well,” Eaton said. “He is just honest and hardworking. He’s a kid that you want to be involved with, whether it’s hockey or school. He’s respectful to everyone and does what’s asked.”