The boys’ hockey team from St. Jean de Brebeuf has earned an Ontario high school Triple A/Quad A tournament qualifying berth for the first time in the school’s 40-year history.
The Brebeuf Braves punched their ticket to the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations’ annual championship event with a 2-1 victory over the Holy Trinity Titans of Oakville at Morgan Firestone Arena on Monday (March 3).
The Braves-Titans contest was a Golden Horseshoe Athletic Conference semi-final. On Wednesday, at 2:30 p.m. at Morgan Firestone, Brebeuf will tangle with the Halton champion Abbey Park Eagles for the GHAC crown. Both teams, however, automatically advance to OFSAA, March 18-21 at Oakville’s Sixteen Mile Sports Complex.
“It doesn’t make Wednesday’s game meaningless by any stretch,” said Mark Fama, coach of the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic Athletic Association champion Braves. “One step at a time. It’s a treat to go to OFSAA.”
Brebeuf struck quickly against the visitors when Jake Morrison out-guessed netminder Logan Gauer with a shot just two minutes, 47 seconds after the opening faceoff. On the play, Morrison was skating into the low slot when he received a back-pass from teammate Josh Gillen.
“That gave us a bit of a jump,” Fama said. “You want to get on the board early.”
The Braves then took a two-goal lead in the first minute of the third period on a score by Matt Hogan – his third consecutive game-winner. Said Fama: “Our top line (Hogan, Zach Bramwell and Connor Maitz) came through again to score. We had some good offences pushes from the other lines, too.”
Holy Trinity’s Vic Christiansen spoiled goaltender Brodyn Sexton’s shutout bid when, with the Titans’ goalie pulled in favour of a sixth attacker, Christiansen jammed the puck across the line with 27.5 seconds remaining.
“It’s very disappointing,” Titans coach Aaron Consoli said of his team’s elimination. “It’s the furthest this team (Holy Trinity) has ever gone. Last year we lost in the finals of our own association.
“We were missing two thirds of our top line today, so I knew we were going to have a hard time scoring goals. I thought we won the second period … we just couldn’t capitalize. The guys worked extremely hard.”
The Titans, who fell 3-1 to Abbey Park last week in the HSSAA finale, got a second chance at one of two GHAC berths because Halton this year is playing host to both the Quad A/Triple A and the Double A/Single A tournaments in Oakville and Burlington, respectively.
Holy Trinity had a golden opportunity to tie the score when Brebeuf received two minor penalties on the same play, eight seconds before the first intermission.
“The double penalty kill was big,” Fama said. “I stressed to the guys in the room to make sure we kill that off. We did a great job of playing an inverted triangle.”
A key player in the win was Sexton, a Grade 12 student in his first year with the Braves. He was one of six netminders who tried out this season after both goalies from last year’s squad did not return. Sexton made many impressive saves, especially in the second period on shots from close range where he had to quickly extend one of his leg pads to the side.
“I’m a tall kid,” said Sexton, who stands 6-foot-2. “It helps a lot. I have long legs and a lot of flexibility. So, in tight, it’s pretty easy for me to get my legs out as far as I need to. I have a longer reach than some goalies post-to-post.”
According to Fama, Sexton has played very well during Brebeuf’s playoff run.
“He definitely has given us a chance to win every game,” the Braves coach said. “The guys know that, too. That helps give them that extra jump.”
Brebeuf won the HWCAA championship last week with a 6-5 overtime victory over the first-place Cardinal Newman Cardinals.
At the girls’ GHAC semi-final, the Bishop Tonnos Titans blanked Burlington Nelson Lords, 4-0, at Mountain Arena. That sets up a GHAC final Tuesday (March 4) between the Loyola Hawks of Oakville and Tonnos. Game time is 2:30 p.m. at Glen Abbey Arena.
Loyola, which downed Nelson 5-1 in the HSSAA championship game last week, lost to Tonnos in the 2013 GHAC final.
The OFSAA Quad A/Triple A tournament for girls is March 18-21 in Sudbury.