1. Kent- No surprises and really nothing of interest especially considering the piss poor move to pull Shaker out of this region. A move which defies all Logical explanation. A move which hastily results in killing the Cleveland areas best Public School program from making the Politically Controlled State Semi Finals. I just don't get it. This move, should have or could have been far better executed if, they had moved all the Public's to one district and Privates to another. Better yet, quit pussy footing around and playing this PC bull shit structure and have real effing play offs, and Two levels. (As I poke the state officials between the eyes, who have not one iota of hockey experience between them) HOCKEY IS NOT FOOTBALL, BASKETBALL or BASEBALL...its different. Your one size fits all structure is crap, and stands in direct contradiction to your "Competitive Balance" initiative.
Ok the rant is over, for now. So here in Kent we see the following #2 seeded Gilmour vs #4 Walsh
Real world what we have is #6 Ranked Gilmour with 138 goals for and 76 goals against Vs. #10 Walsh with 154 goals for and 109 against. The two schools faced each other one time this season and the score was 2 Gilmour and 1 Walsh. I am giving the nood to Gilmour for many reasons. Gilmour is better defensively, and equally capable offensively. Historically Gilmour owns the series as well and will play with extreme confidence. Keys to a Gilmour win, maintain offensive pressure and shooting alot followed by crashing the net. Keys for a Walsh win, protect the darn house, and sacrifice the body boys. The goal-tending is shaky here and every shot that gets threw has serious potential. Get on the board fast, Gilmour is going be playing wide open, leaving some great passing lanes and space, exploit it and shoot.
In the other match we see University School, the #1 seed Vs #5 Hudson. Real world we have #3 Ranked University School, with 110 Goals for and 73 against Vs #15 Hudson with 147 Goals for and 103 against. The Tilt goes to University School. University School will need to get on the board quickly and just not let Hudson breath in the game. Keep the pace fast and physical. Hudson, to win you need choke up U.S, sacrifice the body, and hit like never before. Establish the offensive zone and crash the net. Make them play your game.
2. Brooklyn. The resurgent Rocky River number #4 seeded is playing the best team in state history and #1 seeded Cleveland St. Ignatius. Real world #1 Cleveland St. Ignatius with 226 goals for and 49 against undefeated 38-0-0 vs Rocky River #7 with 237 goals for and 86 against. Hockey fans. This game has potential. Real serious, adrenaline pumping potential! First this game just may be the most heavily scouted Ohio High School state qualifying games in history. Add in this game could easily be goal scorers delight. Hey Rocky River puts up the points, they have some serious snipers. Their keys to a monumental upset is simple. Keep Iggy out of your defensive zone, and back check. In the games where Rocky River has been tested by Shaker. The back check has been none existent and no goalie is going to block every thing on his own. The flip side is, St. Ignatius can come out and potentially mercy Rocky River. Key to victory, attack. its that simple, play the way you have been and stick with whats been working. My pick 9-2 St. Ignatius.
Next we have the up-heaved #2 seeded Shaker with 118 goals for and 57 against vs St. Ed's the #3 seed, with 98 goals for and 77 against. Real world we are looking at #4 Shaker vs #5 St. Eds These two teams have faced each other twice since the first of the year playing to a 2-2 stand off and 3-0 Shaker victory. No question this will be a battle. A battle of will and determination. St. Eds last meaningful games were the 3-0 loss to Shaker, followed by a1-0 ot shoot win over Gilmour and a 2-1 Ot loss to Lake Catholic. Shaker beat University School twice, Walsh and lost a squeaker to St. Ignatius. Shaker wins this bout.
3. Columbus- We find one game. My initial pick of Olentangy liberty real world ranked 11, #2 seed was upset 2-0 in a stunning victory by #4 seed, #19 real world Olentangy Orange. Presenting us with a game between Olentangy Orange (161 goals for 72 against) Vs. #1 seed #12 real world Dublin Jerome ( 179 goals for, 78 goals against) . D.J has played Orange 3 times this season and beaten them twice. D.J needs to play their game and not look past Orange, its that simple. Orange needs to repeat that game against Liberty to find their way to Columbus.
4. Sylvania. One game here, and its no mystery that Toledo St. Johns and Sylvania Northview are squaring off...or is it? So here we go, back to the soap box, right. A St. Johns player was found to have been double dipping. Playing for AAA and HS at the same time. First I want to say, State- get your heads out your collective butts. Have you seen by chance that Ohio is the only hold out on this archaic rule. Once again we find the State is damaging the sport, by forcing top players, top players to leave the state. (Where would St. Francis be this year if Ben Torchia was not playing for Bell Tire...or had been allowed to play for Bell Tire and St. Francis) and we could go on, and on and on and on its a list that should piss off every state hockey fan. Further we have to ask and look at the resultant penalty for having "cheated" all season. NOTHING. St. Johns has had no meaningful penalty against them, no loss in seeding, still allowed to participate in the post season play, an utter joke. Exemplifies why the state really needs to get out of the way of these athletes, and or the weak stick Athletic Directors need to stand up, meet and with draw hockey from OHSAA (which does nothing for the sport anyway) and form a meaningful, purposeful organization for the betterment of the sport, for the players.
So here we have the district final we all saw coming. Toledo St. Johns #2 seed, Vs Sylvania Northview #1 seed. Real world we have #9 Toledo St. Johns with 101 goals for and 75 against that has gone 0-3 against Sylvania this year. Loosing by a combined total of 6-12. Real world Sylvania is #2 with 135 goals for and 45 against. The match up finds Toledo loosing 2 to Sylvania, and splitting with Walsh in their last four games. Sylvania has beaten Toledo twice, St Francis and Findlay in their last four.
Toledo needs to get back to their game. Lets face they lack skill players. They need to get back Hays hockey here and just choke up the neutral zone, and pack it in to the house in the d zone and let shots fly when ever and where they can. St. Johns has two average goalies, combining for a 2.5 goal against average, so not blocking shots is not an option, and not playing the most physical game of their lives is not an option either. Toledo needs to make a statement early and dominate a clean physical game, punishing Sylvania at every opportunity. Just as they did in game 1 this year vs Sylvania where it came down to the wire, in a 4-3 win for Sylvania. This will be a true test of control for the Titans as we have seen this year, once they start to hit, the late hits, the elbows and head contact go hand in hand. Toledo wont win this game from the box. Toledo needs to hit but to hit cleanly.
Sylvania has struggled all season, with the same issues and then some. Starting with the head on this one we speak to indecisiveness. Fact, teams that live by a goalie rotation, die by the rotation. Sylvania has two goalies with great numbers, but youve got to pick one. Case and point Miami University's recent thrashing in the NCAA tournament by Boston University, rotation was the undoing. The HS season just not long enough to support two goalies splitting games. The Miami death is now being mimicked by both Boston College and Boston University who can not seem to settle on net-minders. So I say even with Sylvania's state leading 1.39 goal against average they are in trouble. Players can not settle in to a steady style of play, communication variations and so on all trouble. Sylvania seems to be healthy defensively, as Brent Easton has returned to the line up. Sylvania has skill up front, but its not very physical. They will need to all be at their best to win the day.
My call on this game. 5-4 over time win for Toledo. The heart and determination of Toledo will hand Sylvania their first outright loss of the season, to end their season.