This is the third straight year that Northwest Ohio is sending a pre-post team to Nationals. Two years ago it was Team Toledo's 18U played in the epic 5 overtime semi final game with team Cleveland to advance and then loose 6 hours later to Hadfield in the championship. The names: Frey, Torchia, Opblinger, Roudebusch, Martin, Culver, Gryca, and Carter all still active in Jr hockey. Then it was Mike Mankowskis 18u Sylvania team last year that lost in overtime to Dallas, in another overtime thriller. Another team with familiar names, Gay, Carter, and Felser. This year is no different. Head coach Mike Mankowski coaches well disciplined teams and is a masterful tactician. Assembling a crew of the best Northwest Ohio has to offer. He went out and pounded the other Ohio teams, 8-4, 12-1,10-2
The Sylvania team is patient and aggressive, attacking from all 3 zones. Mike Mankowski, is the head coach, as well as the ADM coordinator, youth hockey director and travel hockey for Sylvania. He is restructuring the entire organization and anyone who knows an ounce of hockey can see this organization is first class. Sylvania's first game is against host Wonderland Wizards of CT at 9 am on April 3rd. Sylvania then plays the Flint Mi Phantoms at 430pm on April 4th. Then on the 5th in what what statistically will be their toughest game, they play the Hadfield Ice dogs. the 2011 nation champions.
Another positive is that the Team Ohio group after losing 8-4 to Sylvania, was awarded a vacant slot at nationals. Every year teams from around the Nation just opt to not attend, and for the 3 rd year in a row a Cleveland's state runner up team has been awarded one of these empty slots. This goes to show the value USA hockey is seeing in the Ohio hockey product. Don't for a moment think either that because they lost 8-4 to Sylvania that this team Ohio group is some how second rate. This team holds most of the best Cleveland area players, including several current State Champions! The¥ will be highly competitive on the national stage.