Left winger Michael Mancinelli of the St. Jean de Brebeuf Braves will always remember his first goal of the 2013-14 Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic Athletic Association hockey season.
It came during the first day of the regular schedule. Nothing unusual there, but it also happened on the opening shift of the game and was the first shot on goal by either team.
Brebeuf also scored on its last shot – into an empty net – en route to a 4-2 victory over the defending champion Bishop Ryan Celtics at Inch Park Arena on Monday.
“It felt good to put it in the net that quick,” Mancinelli said of his unassisted marker on the rush which found the top corner of the net 20 seconds after the puck was dropped.
“Last year we had a big problem with them. We couldn’t beat them and we couldn’t score on them. We lost twice to them and once in the playoffs.”
Mancinelli, who split the defence to get the scoring opportunity, was assessed a 10-minute misconduct in the second period for not wearing a mouth guard. Marcus Methot of Bishop Ryan also was assessed a 10-minute misconduct with two minutes, 46 seconds left for the same infraction.
The Braves were clinging to a 1-0 lead in the third period before Matthew Hogan’s goal with 11:50 remaining. On the play, he tapped in a crossing pass while standing near the far post. Zack Bramwell and Dominic Procopio drew the assists.
One minute later, however, the Celtics got on the scoreboard when Jacob Thompson connected from the low slot.
Celtics defenceman Danny Duvnjak then tied the score at 2-2 when he kept the puck inside the Brebeuf blue line, swooped in and snapped a shot high shot to the glove side past the goaltender with 4:13 remaining.
The winning goal came off the stick of Zach Bramwell who was left uncovered in front with 2:50 left. The assists went to Procopio and Hogan.
“(Bramwell) had a great game,” Mancinelli said. “We knew he was going to be an asset during our tryouts.
“I think we’ve got a really good team. We have a lot of young players who are skilled and very fast.”
Procopio added the insurance goal with 63 seconds remaining when Bishop Ryan pulled its goalie in favour of the extra attacker. It was an unassisted goal and Procopio was slammed heavily into the boards just as he was letting the shot go from 12 feet outside the Celtics blue line.
Bishop Ryan had a 2-1 record in preseason action.
Duvnjak, the Celtics’ captain, said: “I think we’re still trying to find some chemistry. We have a lot of good players, so our lineup is different every night.”
All seven teams make the playoffs, with the first-place finisher receiving a first-round bye.
Celtics over Braves to open HWCAA girls’ hockey
In the preceding HWCAA girls’ hockey game, it, too, was a 4-2 final. But the victory went to Bishop Ryan over Brebeuf.
The Celtics got two goals by Maria deWilde and three assists by her younger sister, Rebecca.
Other goals for Bishop Ryan went to Hannah Kurchik and Abby MacDonald.
Alle Maiolo and Nicole Mayer replied for the Celtics.
“We have a big influx of Grade 9 players,” said Celtics coach Paul Altobelli. “We have 10 rookies on this team. Today, it looked like they were ready for the challenge.”
In girls’ hockey, Cathedral is not entered. The top two teams earn opening-round playoff byes.