The Bishop Tonnos Titans got all the breaks during their Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic Athletic Association boys’ high school hockey game against the St. Mary Crusaders on Monday (Dec. 9).
Breaks, as in breakaways.
The Titans took advantage of those scoring opportunities, too, en route to a 4-2 victory at Coronation Arena.
Left winger Luca Forchelli led the Titans attack with three goals, including an empty netter with 15 seconds remaining when, with the help of a teammate, he got behind the last St. Mary defender to skate in alone.
“On that goal, my buddy was nice enough to give it to me to put in the hatty,” 16-year-old Forchelli said. “I’ve never got a hat trick in high school before. Maybe the last time was when I was really young in house league.”
It was Forchelli who opened the scoring on a breakaway early in the first period. His shot caromed off the goal post.
Seventeen seconds, later, however, the Crusaders replied with a goal by Steve Santos.
League finalists from 2012-13, St. Mary then got the only goal of the second period when winger Brad Grightmire found himself standing unguarded about nine feet in front of the Tonnos net. His high snap shot from a slight angle found the mark.
The second breakaway goal of the contest by Forchelli made it 2-2 before Matt Michalski’s marker with four minutes, seven seconds remaining put Tonnos back on top.
“I had three breakaways and on one of them I missed the net,” Forchelli said.
In addition to Forchelli’s scoring chances, St. Mary goaltender Michael Naccarato stopped two other clear-cut breakaways by Tonnos. “Their defence was pinching a lot and we slipped through,” Forchelli said.
The result improved Bishop Tonnos’s HWCAA record to 2-1. St. Mary tied Brebeuf 1-1 in its only other start.
Jason Kokoski said the Crusaders, as all teams tend to do on occasion, simply lost their mental focus on defence.
“We’ve addressed it as a team,” Kokoski said. “We’ll try to learn from it and come back strong. You’re not going to be perfect every game. It’s tough to lose in that fashion. We led for part of the game and then had a meltdown at the end.”
According to Kokoski, the Crusaders have eight returnees this season.
“We’re still a fairly senior team,” he said, “but we’re mixing in a bunch of young guys. That’s unlike previous years where we had the whole group moving forward. We’re hoping to make it back to the championship again.”
Titans over St. Mary in girls’ hockey
In the girls’ game at Coronation, the defending champion Bishop Tonnos Titans downed St. Mary, 4-1. The Titans have two wins and a tie so far in the regular season while the Crusaders are 1-1.
St. Mary grabbed the lead late in the second period when Joanna Bull swiped a backhand into the net. Before the buzzer ended the second period, however, the Titans answered with goals by Marissa Almeida and Nicole Kenyon. In the third, Almeida and Mackenzie Lombardi (empty-netter) rounded out the scoring.
Jade Mancini had three assists and Tonnos netminder Alyssa Godin was also credited with an assist.
“We started off slow and then we gained momentum,” Tonnos coach Henry DePellegrin said. “We controlled the play better with a strong forecheck and started getting the puck on the net. It was just hard work and determination.”
DePellegrin says two-goal-scorer Almeida is a gritty, physical player who likes to go to the net.
“We’re kind of rebuilding this year,” DePellegrin said of Tonnos, which captured the HWCAA championship last season before bowing out to Oakville’s Loyola Hawks in the Golden Horseshoe Athletic Conference final. Tonnos has taken top honours in the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic league five of the past six years.