Goaltender Jordan Elwood of the Bishop Ryan Celtics saved his best save for the final seconds of the championship game.
Elwood’s sensational sprawling stop with eight seconds left on the clock allowed the Celtics to hang on for a 3-2 victory over the St. Mary Crusaders at the 2013 Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic Athletic Association boys’ hockey final Monday (Feb. 25).
Jordan Elwood makes the save that gave Bishop Ryan the victory. (Photo: Ming Chong)
“Biggest save of the year,” Elwood said of the dramatic close-in play which robbed Crusaders’ captain Mike Harris of the tying marker.
With the victory, before a large and boisterous crowd at Dave Andreychuk Mountain Arena, the first-place Celtics advance to the Golden Horseshoe Athletic Conference championship Tuesday (March 5) on the road against the Halton representative.
Bishop Ryan took a 2-1 lead into the third period before adding an insurance marker by Jacob Thompson on a powerplay with just under eight minutes remaining. Jake Grin, assisted by Harris, then made it a one-goal game with one minute, 42 seconds left. St. Mary kept coming and pulled goaltender Jarod Philpott in favour of an extra attacker in the final minute. Then came the Elwood heroics.
“He saved the championship right there at the end,” Bishop Ryan coach Mike Kolic said. “I don’t know how. It was an incredible circus catch. We were fortunate he came through.”
Elwood, a Grade 11 student, says he got off to a shaky start in the first period before settling down. He describes the final save as follows: “I was sliding to my right side of the net. The puck shot and rebounded out. A guy was wide open. All I could do was just dive across. I’m a soccer goalie so I’m used to that diving. I got a piece of it with my glove. Luckily, it came back out in front of me and I was able to cover it.”
St. Mary coach Jason Kokoski said the Crusaders worked hard and sometimes the breaks just don’t go your way.
“It’s one of those things,” the coach of the 2012 city champion Crusaders said. “There’s nothing you can do about it.”
St. Mary opened the scoring in the first period when Nick Chong tapped in a rebound after Elwood let the puck drop in the crease.
In the second period, captain Danny Duvnyak got the Celtics on the scoreboard, taking a pass from behind the net by Marcus Methot. Brandon Chora then gave Bishop Ryan the lead when he knocked in his own rebound.
“Our guys were a little slow in the second period,” Kokoski said, “but I thought in the first and the third we played well. It was a good game between two good teams.”
Throughout the contest, the Celtics helped their goaltender by blocking shots. Nine times Bishop Ryan players threw their bodies in front of potential scoring attempts.
“I take my hat off to them for stepping up and taking that kind of abuse,” Kolic said. “That was their own call.”
Bishop Ryan was 10-1-1 during the regular season. They had a first-round bye before defeating Bishop Tonnos Titans 4-2 in a semifinal.
“We’re not a physical, punishing team,” Kolic said. “We’re well balanced. We’re pretty strong all around.”
St. Mary’s record was 7-3-2 during the regular schedule. They split two previous meetings with Bishop Ryan, winning 6-2 on Dec. 17 and losing 3-1 on Feb. 7.