It took St. Jean de Brebeuf Catholic Secondary School 40 years to make its debut appearance at a boys’ Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations championship hockey tournament.
The Brebeuf Braves accomplished that feat Tuesday (March 18) at the Sixteen Mile Sports Complex in Oakville.
Brebeuf will have to wait a little longer, however, to record an OFSAA victory. The Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic Athletic Association champions dropped their first two starts at the 2014 Triple A/Quad A provincial high school showcase event – 8-3 to the sixth-seeded Orangeville District Bears and 9-2 to the ninth-seeded St. Elizabeth Panthers of Thornhill.
Twenty teams are vying for the title.
Brebeuf, seeded No. 17, completes its round-robin schedule Wednesday with games against the Kingston Holy Cross Crusaders (8.15 a.m.) and fourth-seeded Mississauga St. Aloysius Gonzaga Bulldogs (1:15 p.m.).
“We’re here and it’s a great accomplishment,” Brebeuf defenceman Aaron Panter said after the two setbacks. “We’re playing our best and giving it our all. It’s All-Ontario … the top 20 teams in the province. I expected the level of competition to be high.”
It looked as if Brebeuf would be in contention against St. Elizabeth in the nightcap when, on the rush, centre Connor Maitz cut in and quickly went to his backhand to score with 36 seconds left in the first period. That made it 1-1. Six seconds later, however, the Panthers regained the lead and never looked back. They carried a 6-2 advantage into the third period.
“After we scored, we didn’t expect that just over five seconds later,” said 16-year-old Panter, who also plays for the Hamilton Triple A Huskies. “I believe we could have beaten that team.”
Brebeuf’s other goal was shorthanded and was credited to Jake Morrison.
St. Elizabeth was led by Lucas Colalillo who fired three goals and added three assists. Alex Presutto and Adam Stuart each netted a pair while singles went to Julian Luongo and Anthony Sanci.
“We scored a lot of power-play goals tonight and that was a difference maker,” said coach Domenic Cugliari of the York Region champions. “We’re a pretty fast team and we were able to transition out.”
In the opener, the Braves trailed 2-0 and 6-0 at the end of the first two periods.
Brebeuf goals went to Maxwell Offel, Domenic Procopio and Matthew Hogan.
The Central Western Ontario champions clicked three times on the power. Orangeville markers went to Trevor Nevidomskis and James Maizis (two apiece), Travis Brown, Zachary Banks, Kyle Waters and David Bath.
Panter said the Olympic-size ice surface may have been difficult for some of the Braves to adjust to.
Braves coach Mark Fama was in attendance for both games but advised the players he will be undergoing a heart operation on Wednesday.
“We’re all wishing him luck,” Panter said. “He means a lot to us. We’ll see him in May at our athletic banquet.”
In addition to Brebeuf, the Golden Horseshoe Athletic Conference is represented by the Abbey Park Eagles of Oakville.
Other scores were: Catholic Central 3, Lakeshore Catholic 2; St. Peter 4, Malvern 2; St. Mary 2, Sacred Heart 0; Michael Power/St. Joseph 6, Centennial 0; St. Mary 2, St. Thomas of Villanova 1; St. Elizabeth 3, St. Aloysius Gonzaga 3; St. Michael’s 7, Sacred Heart 1; Malvern 2, Abbey Park 2; St. Thomas of Villanova 6, Confederation 0; Patrick Fogarty 4, Monsignor Percy Johnson 2; St. Aloysius Gonzaga 2, Holy Cross 1; Abbey Park 5, Monsignor Percy Johnson 2; Catholic Central 5, Father Leo J. Austin 1; Patrick Fogarty 1, St. Peter 0; Lakeshore Catholic 4, Michael Power/St. Joseph 3; Holy Cross 3, Orangeville 2; Father Leo J. Austin 4, Centennial 3; St. Michael’s 5, Confederation 0.