By Michael Fitzpatrick, Special to Northeast Ohio Media Group | February 26, 2014
BROOKLYN, Ohio — Members of Holy Name’s hockey team are proving a little fun can’t hurt late in the season.
Before the start of the playoffs, the entire squad agreed to dye their hair blond. The team had done the same a year ago and advanced all the way to the district final before losing to Rocky River.
“We did it last year and we had a good run in the tournament so we did it again,” said senior winger Jamie Bucell.
Whatever good karma derived from the decision to dye continued Wednesday night as Bucell scored a short-handed goal with four minutes left in regulation to lift No. 2-seeded Holy Name to a 1-0 win over No. 3 St. Edward in a district semifinal thriller at the John M. Coyne Recreation Center.
Holy Name improved to 18-10-5 and will face No. 1 St. Ignatius (27-4-5) for the district title Saturday at 3 p.m. Holy Name beat St. Ignatius, 3-2, earlier the season in the only meeting between the two teams.
The Eagles (20-18) were peppering Holy Name goalie C.J. Balodis during a power play opportunity that led to Bucell’s game-winner.
Somehow the puck found its way to mid-ice and onto the stick of Green Wave left wing Joe Meehan, starting the sequence that led to Bucell’s heroics.
“I saw Meehan get the puck and I saw there was one guy back so I just called for the puck. He made a perfect pass and I shot through a screen and managed to go left side,” Bucell said.
The loss was a heartbreaker for St. Edward, which outshot Holy Name 28-24 on the night.
“We had a lot of great opportunities on that power play and didn’t put the puck in the net and that’s what happens,” St. Edward coach Troy Gray said. “They are a great team with a couple of great hockey players and we paid for it.”
Any chance St. Edward had of coming back late was nullified when it was whistled for a penalty in the last 94 seconds.
Bucell was having a head-shaking night up until tallying the game-winner. Time after time he’d dash down the ice and close in on St. Edward goalie Trevor Hill only to be denied.
“I had a couple of times, you know, of hitting shin guards or missing a little wide and it was a little frustrating,” Bucell said. “I had to keep calm and think about hitting the net.”
Bucell was not the only star. Holy Name’s goalie Balodis was sensational in net, stopping 28 shots on the night.
“C.J. played well, “ coach Tim Sullivan said of his goalie. “He sees the puck well. We got lucky in the first period on one that deflected and hit off the pipe. But he played well. He plays well when he sees the puck well.”
Gray gave all the credit to Holy Name for coming out on top in what was a physically punishing contest played in front of nearly packed arena.
“They are moving on. They’ve got a great hockey team, that’s all there is to that,” Gray said.
The game was physical, with both teams trading booming checks.
“They came out hitting and we said we had to come out and start hitting,” Bucell said. “There was a lot of contact in that game.”
Beating traditional power St. Edward in the district semifinal allowed Sullivan to reflect on how far his program has come since he started it 11 years ago.
“I’m amazed at the way the school supports the hockey program. Getting to play in the district final two years in a row is just a dream come true as a coach. When I started the program 11 years ago I never imagined going to the district final two years in a row,” Sullivan said.
Brooklyn District semifinal
Holy Name 1, St. Edward 0
HN (18-10-5): Bucell. SE (20-18).
Goalies: HN, Balodis (28 shots-28 saves); SE, Hill (24-23).
Tickets for Saturday’s hockey game at Brooklyn Recreation vs St. Ignatius (3:00 PM start time) will go on sale Thursday February 27 at the Holy Name Team Shop beginning at 11:00 AM. Tickets will be $7.00 each for both students and adults. There will be a limit of four tickets per person. The team shop is located in the main foyer of the school. Please enter through the main school doors and park in the west lot off of Layor Drive. Any question please contact Athletic Director Jack Richardson at 440 886-0300 ext. 155.