Jaguars power past Bishop Ryan Celtics

It was a deadly combination for the Bishop Ryan Celtics.

Christ the King Jaguars of Georgetown entered Tuesday’s (March 5) Golden Horseshoe Athletic Conference boys’ hockey championship game firing on all cylinders in terms of their power play. In winning the Halton Secondary Schools Athletic Association championship last week over Holy Trinity Titans of Oakville, the Jags scored three times with the manpower advantage.

So, against a dangerous team such as the Jags, the Celtics definitely chose the wrong time to take a rash of unnecessary minor penalties. The end result? Christ the King clicked three more times on the power play en route to a 5-2 victory at Gord Alcott Arena.

Photo: Megan Hennessey

The Jaguars advance to the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations 16-team Quad A/Triple A tournament March 19-22 in Mississauga and Brampton.

“Our power play has been so good in the past two weeks,” Jags’ coach Scott Van de Valk said. “That’s what got us here. That’s what won us the Halton championship.

“We’ve created a lot of scoring chances and capitalized on a number of them.”

The Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic Athletic Association representatives opened the scoring on a power play of their own, however. Nick Bruccoleri’s screened high slapshot from the top of the faceoff circle in the Jags’ zone found the net after only four minutes and 43 seconds. Assists went to Marcus Methot and Justin Whitwell.

But the visitors took five minor penalties during the opening 15 minutes and paid for it, falling behind by the first intermission on power-play goals by Connor Mortimer and Mike Nicolucci.

Mike Wallace then pounced on a loose puck in front to give the Jags a 3-1 lead but, less than a minute later, captain Danny Duvnyak replied with a goal for Bishop Ryan.

In the third period, a 10-foot power-play wrist shot by Andy Charalambides eluded goaltender Jordan Elwood on the glove side to give the Jags a two-goal cushion again with 12:59 remaining. The final goal – by Josh Kalbhenn – slid into an empty net when the Celtics pulled their goalie in favour of an extra attacker.

“I came out last week and watched this team (Christ the King) play,” Bishop Ryan coach Mike Kolic said. “They are a well-oiled machine, a model of how high school hockey should be played. They were full credit for their victory today.”

After two periods, the Jags held a 29-13 shots-on-goal advantage. They also rang two shots of the goal post and had another sure-fire goal blocked by Celtics forward Matthew Rimac, who was covering up in the temporarily vacated crease area.

“We took a lot of penalties,” Kolic said. “Whether it was us or the refereeing, we’re not going to cry about it. The fact is, we spent too much time in the penalty box. That really hurt our chances. It prevented us from getting our legs going and getting into the flow.

“It was very uncharacteristic of our team to take those penalties. You can talk about trying to stay disciplined and keeping your cool, but it’s tough. It was a big game. At times, we were not able to keep our composure. We did some things we shouldn’t have done and it cost us.”

The Celtics finished first in the HWCAA standings. They entered the GHAC contest riding a record of 12-1. Said Kolic: “They (the Jags) have fast players. And they are well disciplined. We just didn’t play how we’re capable of playing. They’re a good representative from GHAC.”

The team bus experienced mechanical problems on the highway – a 20-minute breakdown — causing the Celtics to arrive late.

“We only had about five minutes to get warmed up,” Duvnyak said. “It was rushed. I don’t think our minds were in the right place. We weren’t mentally prepared to play.

“We took some stupid, unnecessary penalties. Kudos to them for capitalizing on their chances.”

Christ the King has won the Halton Tier 1 title three of the past four years. The best finish at OFSAA for the Jags was three years ago when they advanced to the quarter-final round.

“I thought we were great from the minute the puck dropped,” the Jags coach said. “It’s a huge advantage in this type of game to be playing at home. For us, there weren’t as many nerves as I thought there would be. I thought our second period was spectacular.”

The Jaguars have only lost once in league and playoff action this season.

When comparing the current Jags team to some of his other Halton champion squads, Van de Valk said: “I think we’re as talented as we’ve ever been on the back end. Up front, we’re probably more skilled but not as big. If we can outskate teams, we’ll have a chance.”