High school hockey teams in the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic Athletic Association have reached the Christmas break, but the defending champion Bishop Ryan Celtics aren’t exactly in mid-season form.
Just ask their coach, Mike Kolic.
The Celtics defeated the Bishop Tonnos Titans, 3-1, on Wednesday (Dec. 18) at Morgan Firestone Arena despite some erratic play. And just the day before, Bishop Ryan suffered a 4-2 loss to the previously winless Cathedral Gaels.
The Celtics and Titans are each 2-3 with seven games remaining in the regular-season schedule.
“We played much better than we did yesterday,” Kolic said. “The thing is, we keep making careless mistakes in our own end. We’re probably our worst enemy.
“We had a big turnover of defencemen this year and we’re not doing the basic things. We’re making mistakes at the wrong time.”
Kolic pointed to an example of the Titans only goal. With five minutes, 15 seconds remaining, Luca Forchelli took the puck out front from behind the Celtics’ goal and snapped a shot into the top corner past goaltender Matthew Ott.
“There was no excuse for that,” Kolic said. “A dumb turnover at the wrong time. It’s a lack of concentration and focus.”
Kolic also was shaking his head about an icing call against the Celtics with 11 seconds left on the clock. Marcus Methot of the Celtics was near centre ice at the time and his shot at the empty net slid wide, giving Tonnos one final faceoff in the BR zone. The Celtics gained possession, however, and Methot made up for the mistake by scoring into the yawning cage with 2.6 seconds remaining.
Jacob Thompson opened the scoring for Bishop Ryan – Tonnos claimed the whistle had blown — and Noah Bollert made it 2-0 one minute into the third period while the Celtics were enjoying a two-man advantage.
The Titans dressed only nine skaters.
“We were very short today,” Tonnos coach Dino Cavarzan said. “We had two guys suspended (serving the first game of their three-game suspensions), one guy has a broken hand and a couple of others had to work. I thought we did well, thought. The kids dug deep and played with a lot of confidence. They were tired, but they kept going.
“(Bishop Ryan) moved the puck well. They were hard on the forecheck. It was a good game.”
A golden opportunity for Tonnos to score came with about nine minutes remaining in the third period. Bishop Ryan had three players in the penalty box serving minors and Cavarzan decided to pull goaltender Ethan Slobodzian in favour of an extra attacker. That 6-on-3 situation produced several dangerous scoring threats but no goal.
“We knew we had to score at that point or it would be difficult,” Cavarzan said. “So why not pull the goalie? I’ve done it before, but not too often.”
Tonnos over Celtics in girls’ hockey
In the girls’ game, played on the adjoining rink at Morgan Firestone, Bishop Tonnos blanked Bishop Ryan 2-0. Jade Mancini and MacKenzie Lombardi shared the scoring for the Titans in front of the shutout netminding of Mary Stewart.
“Mary made some key saves,” said coach Henry DePellegrin, whose Titans have yielded only one goal in the past three games. “We’ve been doing quite well. We’re in first place overall.”
The defending champion Titans improved to 4-0-1. For the Celtics, it was their first loss to go along with two wins and a tie.
Mancini, a Hamilton Hawks AA rep player, also had an assist.
“Jade is a very offensive-minded player,” DePellegrin said. “We’re teaching her to play 200 feet. She’s energetic and competitive. She’s coming along well.”