The two kinds of hockey – ice and field – have kept Mary Ellen Schiestel hopping this week.
On Tuesday (Oct. 22), the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic Athletic Association field hockey team she coaches defeated the Cardinal Newman Cardinals, 2-1, and captured the league championship for a second consecutive year. That night, she attended the Hamilton Bulldogs American Hockey League game at Copps Coliseum where one of the Bulldogs – defenceman Drew Schiestel — happens to be her son.
Drew, a graduate of St. Thomas More, has played for various teams in the AHL since 2009, but this is his first season as a member of the Bulldogs. He’s one of only a handful of Hamilton natives who have ever worn the uniform of the Montreal Canadiens affiliate club.
“I was tired, but it was a fabulous day,” Schiestel said of her athletic doubleheader. “It’s an exciting thing to have my son involved in a sport in our home town. He’s really excited about that, too.”
The Bulldogs provided some thrills to the fans, rallying in regulation time and scoring in overtime for a 5-4 victory over the Rockford IceHogs. Said Schiestel: “I’m so proud to be able to teach and coach at our school. And I’m proud to say I’m the mom of a Hamilton Bulldog.”
Schiestel has coached for 10 years at More, helping field hockey teams win league titles in three of the past four years. But the Knights charge towards an Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations berth in 2013 was halted Wednesday. Playing on their home field, the Knights dropped a 2-1 decision on penalty flicks to the Burlington Nelson Lords in a Golden Horseshoe Athletic Conference semi-final. The other playoff, in Oakville, went to the Oakville Trafalgar Red Devils – 5-0 winners over the Cardinal Newman Cardinals.
The Red Devils and the Lords, who have each earned entry to the OFSAA tournament in Kitchener-Waterloo, will tangle in the GHAC final on Thursday.
After a scoreless overtime period, the Lords out-scored the Knights 4-3 in penalty strokes. Lords goalkeeper Katie Grabauskas blocked Sam Walton’s low shot to end the contest. Nelson connected on its first four attempts – by Julia Costanzo, Kyra O’Brien, Danielle Crumpton and Ashlyn Babiak – before More goalie, Venus Orig, made a dramatic leg save. More’s goals were by Shannon Connolly, Brianne Burrough and Sarah Hine.
During regulation time, Nelson grabbed the lead on a goal by Mackenzie Denington. Connolly replied for the Knights mid way through the second half.
“We’re thrilled to win and go back to OFSAA (bronze-medal winners in 2012),” Nelson coach Steve Clark said. “They’re a good team. Very skilled.”
Clark, whose Lords lost 3-0 to Oakville Trafalgar for the Halton Tier I championship, felt confident going into the shootout.
“Katie is in her graduating year and I think she’s one of the best goalies in Halton,” the Nelson coach said. “Over the years, junior through senior, she’s never lost on penalty strokes. If it gets to that point, we’re pretty confident in our goalie and our shooters. It’s something we’ve worked on a lot.”
More’s best play against Nelson was a long run down the right wing by speedy Walton, who then crossed a pass in front of the goal. That same method of attack nearly clicked on four occasions.
“She (Walton) beat her man every time and crossed it in the middle,” Connolly said of her goal. “It was an amazing pass. I was in the right spot at the right time to get a stick on it and put it in the back of the net.”
A Grade 12 student, Connolly said the loss was disappointing but doesn’t take away from the team’s success this season.
According to Schiestel, Halton teams traditionally provide More its stiffest test of the season when the GHAC playoffs roll around. Newman coach Christine Ivezic agrees that Halton opponents are strong in the sport because of the junior leagues and club competition that many of their players take part in. They also are more used to playing on artificial turf fields. Most of the HWCAA’s games are on grass at Sackville Park.
“It’s like comparing apples to oranges,” Ivezic said after the five-goal loss to the undefeated Red Devils who scored 36 goals and didn’t allow any during the regular season. “Two years ago we lost to them 11-0 in the GHAC final. “Our girls never gave up, though.”