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Friday, January 13, 2012

This past long weekend was one big weekend.

As we look at  the games being played this past weekend, it is safe to say we have seen good hockey coming from the usual suspects.  University School, St Edwards, Toledo St. Johns, Gilmour, Rocky River, Lake Catholic, Shaker Heights, Olentangy Liberty and Dublin Jerome.  It is clearly evident that Toledo St. Francis is not the same team that won their first state title last season, and that Walsh is developing and will be contending.

The real story of this whole season is a tale of two wildcats.  Two cool yet very, very different wildcats.  Cleveland St. Ignatius and Sylvania Northview.  In state play the teams with the most trips to states are BGHS with 19, St. Ed's 19, & St. Johns 14.  Sylvania Northview and St. Ignatius combine for 13, so it would seem they are not only the "new kids" this pair, right now today are the two best teams this state has ever seen.  More skill, more speed, more will to win and more depth than any teams in the past.  Lets examin these pair of Wildcats.

Cleveland St. Ignatius-  is a private high school under the Diocese of Cleveland, for young men, located in the Ohio City neighborhood of Cleveland, Ohio. The school is renowned for its high standards of academic excellence, athletic program and performing arts programs. Each year, nearly 100% of graduates go on to colleges and universities within one year of graduation. - Wikipedia
St. Ignatius is an all boy college preparatory school with an enrollment of some 1,400 students, where by they are uninhibited under state athletic recruitment rules for athletes.    St. Ignatius has further elected to maintain that their top varsity team, as is the case with the majority of Ohio day schools, in the Ohio Athletics Association.  Not pursuing in the case of hockey, competition with other private preparatory institutions such as those of the New England Division 1 prep hockey league, which is with out question maintain the best high school aged league in North America, or pursuing the next best league, the Independent Prep league with teams like Culver Military and Shattuck St. Mary and Clevelands Gilmour Academy( which maintains a Varsity A and B program).  It is very curious as St. Ignatius a medium  size private school.
I believe that having teams like St. Ignatius, St. Edwards, University School, Toledo St. Johns etc. playing in the State is a great add for Ohio, and ups the level of competition, to the point where the state needs to establish two divisions, each with their own title, to end the crazy disparity the comes at the end of each season in play offs.  That is an item I speak about with great frequency.

The Sylvania Northview Wildcats, are a public institution, with a total enrollment of 1300.  Some 700 female students and 500 males, being drawn in from area (divided) in to two roughly 5 square mile regions.  One being established as Northview, the other Southview.  A division which was made in great haste in the late 1950's that established two separate high schools, and divided one community, making the whole to suffer in generalized mediocrity.  I am informed that a groundswell movement is working in reuniting Sylvania, that is however an article for another time.

Our players, St. Ignatius, and Sylvania Northview spent this weekend again apart.  St. Ignatius in Meadville, Sylvania in Chicago.  St Ignatius entered the weekend coming off a huge win over rival St. Ed's and an absolutely commanding win over University School 9-2.  St. Ignatius won the Meadvill tourny in style.  Beating teams that aside from St. Eds -score 4-0 (who can not beat Ignatius this year) teams that if Ignatius had lost we would be scratching our heads  Erie McDowell score 9-1, Seneca score 6-1and Meadville 7-1 , Peters Township score 4-0 this weekend.  St Ignatius is now 28-0, with 156 goals for and 30 against.  The shut out of St. Ed's  at 4-0 illustrates that St Ignatius is now ready shred their remaining opposition in league play and the Barron Cup as they drive to the State Finals.  Playing with confidence St Ignatius is unbeatable.

Sylvania played their last game, last year.  Where they were crushed 4-2 by Dublin Jerome.  Yet this past weekend they found themselves in Chicago.  Playing some of the best AA U18 teams in the country.  Teams that will be contending against the Sylvania Prepost team in post season play at Nationals.  Those teams being: Arapaho, Littleton, Dallas, Geneva,  Southbend and Chicago's Wheaton.  They will be played teams that are bigger, stronger, faster, older and with more depth than any team they have or faced.  Sylvania came in won their first contest commanding game play in all three zones.  The shut out win over Arapaho 3-0 was a great start.  The next morning Sylvania squared off with the Geneva Cyclones and downed them 4-0.  That afternoon Sylvania played one of the top AA teams in the Nation,  the Hawks from Littleton Colorado who enter the weekend 38-6-3.  Sylvania beats Littleton 3-1.  Monday morning Sylvania played Wheaton and battled to a 3-2 win.  The Championship game was rematch for Sylvania and Arapaho (Colorado).  This contest was physical fast and an all out battle.  Arapaho drew first blood in the first period.  Sylvania with stood numerous PK situations and found the net in the third to tie the game.  The game ended a tie and in the over time session Sylvania scored to win.  Sylvania is now 25 games in to their season.  21-1-3.

What does this all mean.  It means that this pair of wildcat's are playing what is the best hockey either team has ever played.  That these two Ohio teams, barring rivalry upsets, are on a collision course.  Where still the only place they will battle is the Sunday March 11 State final game, for the state championship. 

I personally would like to take these two teams, and plop them down at some neutral site, Goggin arena, or the BGSU ice arena, or the Covelli center.  Just these two teams, 3 officials and no one else, but me.  Watching what just may be the best Ohio High School game ever.  Selfish I know, so ok lets open it up to the parents, lol.  We will however all have to sit back, watch and wait, and hope the two best teams the state collide.  The dockets show that Ignatius will be playing Strongsvill the 20th at 7pm and again on the 21st against Lake Catholic on the 21st, who just beat and won the St. Johns tournament this weekend.  Sylvania is heading down to Indianapolis, to play in Fishers  on the 21st and 22nd against Hamilton and Cathedral-Chatard.