By Robert Rozboril, Northeast Ohio Media Group | March 01, 2014 6:53 p.m.
BROOKLYN, Ohio — The St. Ignatius hockey team earned a trip to the state final four with a 4-2 win against Holy Name in the Brooklyn District final on Saturday.
St. Ignatius coach Pat O’Rourke said he felt coming into the game that his team needed to be more physical than it had been in the Wildcats’ previous couple of matchups.
“I think we did that,” he said. “We knocked them around a little bit. They like to do that too so we tried to beat (the Green Wave) at their own game in a sense.”
O’Rourke said his main concerns coming into the game centered around the team’s ability to create offense. This concern stemmed from the fact that St. Ignatius entered the game with some Wildcats players having to step into unfamiliar roles to fill in for three prominent players who were suspended for the game for breaking an undisclosed team rule.
Also, Jack Mazanec was out with a broken wrist he suffered against Rocky River in the district semifinals.
The three suspended players will be eligible to play against Lake Catholic in the state semifinal on Friday at 4 p.m. at Nationwide Arena in Columbus. O’Rourke also said Mazanec may be able to take the ice as well but that is still to be determined, depending on the status of his injury.
O’Rourke said that confusion during a shift change led to a penalty for too many men on the ice at one point. He said having some JV players in the mix and defenders playing forward is what attributed to the confusion, which is something he expected to see happen at least once.
“We pretty much eliminated the X’s and O’s because we had so many new guys,” O’Rourke said. “We said ‘Let’s go our there with energy and physicality and see what happens.”
He added that the team felt like the underdogs coming into the matchup. “It’s not often you get to be the No. 1 seed and still be the underdogs.”
Holy Name coach Tim Sullivan said he felt Wildcats rallied around the players that were not able to participate in Saturday’s game and took a great deal of energy from that.
“That gave them more momentum than, I think, people anticipated,” Sullivan said. “They came out especially hard today. They came out with a purpose-plus.”
Sullivan said his team recognized the physical play that the Wildcats were showing against them early. He and his players attempted to make the necessary adjustments as play progressed but just couldn’t find enough offense.
“I’m really proud of the way my guys came out in the third period and made adjustments and won that period, 2-1,” Sullivan said. “It doesn’t win hockey games, it doesn’t put you in the final four but at least you know that none of the guys on this hockey team wanted to quit.”
Fans of both teams filled the stands and lined the glass around the ice for the sold-out contest and, in the end, the St. Ignatius faithful got their wish as they witnessed their team earn the right to advance to the state semifinals.
St. Ignatius’ Brady Wells said he and his teammates knew there would be a huge crowd on hand to see the highly anticipated matchup.
“Coming into this game, we knew that there was going to be a big crowd. We’d heard that they sold a lot of student tickets,” Wells said. “We wanted to match that with our student section.”
Wells scored the first goal of the game off of an assist by Jack Wiegandt about six minutes into the opening period.
Holy Name kept St. Ignatius off the board for the remainder of the first period and for most of the second but the Wildcats were able to score twice in the last five minutes of the second period to take a 3-0 lead into the third frame.
Beck Schultz netted one with 3:05 left in the second with the help of assists by Kevin Yarcusko and Danny Brogan.
With only 34 seconds left in the second, Seth Whitney took a pass from Matty Geither and buried it in the back of the net for the Wildcats’ third goal of the day.
The Green Wave got the board with 6:30 left in the third on a goal by Tyler Albitz. Jamie Bucell and Tim Higginbotham provided assists on the play.
With 1:25 left in regulation, St. Ignatius extended its lead to three on an empty net goal by Wiegandt. Holy Name answered back about 30 seconds later when Albitz and Troy Hodge fed Bucell for a score but it was not enough to propel the Green Wave to a late comeback.
As Wildcat fans cheered their team’s victory, Green Wave fans sounded a brief chant of “We still love you,” much the way they chanted “We believe” when Holy Name initially went down by three goals in the second frame.
St. Ignatius 4, Holy Name 2
SI: Wells, Whitney, Schultz, Wiegandt. HN: Albitz, Bucell.
Goalies: SI, McKeon (32 shots-30 saves); HN, Balodis (40-37).