(photo: Ken Klemencic)
The Great Lakes Hockey League opens its eighth season of play this week and jumps right into league play in the first week of action in the 2020-21 Ohio High School Athletic Association regular season.
Three league games are on the docket this week beginning with Saturday’s tilt between University School and Holy Name at Ries Rink (8:30pm). The Preppers then host Shaker Heights Sunday (5:00pm). That game will be played at Winterhurst Arena in Lakewood where US will play most of their home games.
UPDATE: Both of this weekend's league games have been postponed due to University School's team being under quarantine. The Preppers will be able to return to the ice for the Walsh Thanksgiving Tournament next weekend.
Walsh Jesuit will be playing out of OBM Arena in Strongsville this season due to the temporary closure of the KSU Ice Arena.
The GLHL has put together a full slate of 28 league games. The Regular season will run through the first week of February followed by the Cleveland Cup league tournament (February 9-13). District play is scheduled to begin February 15.
The OHSAA issued a statement earlier this week saying winter sports could move forward, but the COVID-19 pandemic has already created some scheduling challenges, something which was captured in comments from Shaker Heights head coach Matt Bartley.
"We have a good hard-working group of athletes this season," said Bartley. "We have already had some setbacks with the virus, and will continue to work hard to improve any chance we get to be on the ice together. We were not able to play any scrimmages so we will be starting the season without much experience together."
Last February, Goaltender Tobias Herlong turned aside 34 of 35 shots to backstop the Lancers of Gilmour Academy to their second Cleveland Cup (2018) championship with a 3-1 win over St. Edward in the Final.
The Lancers carried the momentum of the league title into the OHSAA post-season, capturing the Kent District title with a 4-1 win over Mentor. Gilmour’s trip to Columbus for the Frozen Four, however, was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic. St. Edward advanced to the Brooklyn District Final and University School was Shaker Heights were semifinalists in the Kent bracket.
Gilmour Academy celebrates winning the 2020 Cleveland Cup
FRIDAY, NOV. 20
Gilmour Academy @ Findlay, 7pm
Hudson @ Shaker Heights, 7:45pm (postponed due to closure of Thornton Park)
SATURDAY, NOV. 21
Gilmour Academy @ Bowling Green, 3pm
University School @ Holy Name, 8:30pm * (postponed due to US quarantine)
SUNDAY, NOV. 22
Shaker Heights @ University School, 5pm * (postponed due to US quarantine)
The Lancers won the GLHL regular season, Cleveland Cup and Kent District titles last season. It will be hard to top that performance, and they will have to do it without bell-weather goaltender Tobias Herlong, who is playing junior hockey in Sweden this year. In addition to graduations, Charlie Tuggey, Luke Robertson and Vince Stafford moved up to the Prep team at GA…For the Lancers to top the league standings a third straight season they will need bigger contributions from players that will be pushed into larger roles. "With eight returning players who have substantial varsity experience we are in a good position," said veteran head coach John Malloy. "Plus, almost all of the newcomers are juniors and seniors who have a lot of hockey experience. I think we have the makings of a very competitive team."
There are some big shoes to fill at Ries Rink this year. The nine-member Class of 2020 included three GLHL All-Stars – Brennan Dickey, Milo Henry and Patrick Ehlert – along with fellow seniors Jack Mohar and Chris Callahan. That leaves senior Dom Lugo (7-28-35) as the only returning player that produced more than five points for Holy Name last season. Lugo was a solid complimentary player, but will be asked to drive play himself quite a bit more this season. The Namers have as many new faces this season (10) as they do returning players. "We are a very young team up front," said head coach Craig Patton. "But our defense has some experience as well as our goaltending."...Senior goaltenders Brendan Greller and J. J. Light will be asked to hold the fort with a younger group in front of them…Dickey, who took a serious run at the 100-point mark in his senior year with the Namers (46-49-95) is playing junior hockey for the Northern Cyclones in the Tier II National Collegiate Development Conference (NCDC) this season.
Padua goaltender Aiden Knox was stellar for the Bruins as a freshman, facing over 1,000 shots on the season. Knox posted a solid .895 save percentage in 25 appearances for the Team Ohio U18 team this fall and should be that much better as a sophomore. But if the Bruins are going to be competitive in league play, they will need goals. Sophomore Shane Helman figured in half of Padua’s 48 goals as a rookie, scoring 19 times and picking up five assists. As impressive as his play was, he can’t do it all by himself. Look for seniors Andrew Lampa (7-16-23), Giovanni Iannelli (5-12-17) and Conor Nagle (5-6-11) to provide scoring depth in their final year.
There is guaranteed to be a celebration at Shaker Heights this season – regardless of how things go on the ice – as the hockey teams celebrates its’ 50th anniversary. The Red Raiders are coming off a strong season but lost 62 goals to graduation. Logan Mears (26-14-40), Devin Campbell (16-22-38) and Dylan Shelton (11-22-33) accounted for 53 of those…Nine new faces join the Shaker lineup, including six of 13 forwards. Last year’s leading scorer Mark Sauerland (21-21-42) does return, along with Will Glasper (8-16-24), double-digit goal scorers Peter Levin (10-12-22), Tyler Lencewicz (11-10-21) and Josh Floyd (11-8-19). In addition to the scoring they have coming back, six defensemen return led by seniors Jeff Sauerland, Glasper, Kevin Gillooly and Cooper Cook, and both ends of the goaltending tandem of senior Maxim Ehlers (2.21/.893) and junior Garrett Ritts (2.53/.902).
In Tim Sullivan’s first season behind the bench at St. Edward, the Eagles made it to the Cleveland Cup championship game for the second time (2017), but came up short against Gilmour Academy, 3-1. They advanced to the district final with wins over Holy Name and Rocky River before their season was ended by Saint Ignatius in the Brooklyn District Final. It was the fifth trip to the district title game in the last six seasons for the Eagles. A strong group of returnees led by senior forward Noah Schultz and mobile blue liner Tyler Fowles have the Eagles primed for a run at their first Cleveland Cup title.
UPDATE: University School is in quarantine due to a positive test among one of their pre-season opponents. The Preppers plan to be back on the ice next weekend for the Walsh Thanksgiving Tournament...GLHL All-Star John Pape returns for his senior season having led the Preppers in goals (18), assists (16) and points (34) as a junior. Pape is joined by classmates Sam Heller (15-13-28) and Nick Flowers (13-13-26), giving US their top three scorers back, but the next five players on the 2019-20 scoring list have all graduated. Expect that senior trio to lead the charge up front, but there will be opportunities for younger players to expand their role. Among them will be junior Mark Berglund (7-8-15), who should be able to hit the ground running after joining Pape and Heller on Team Ohio’s state championship U18 team. The Preppers are one of the many teams in Ohio scrambling to find ice this season. “Cleveland Heights has not opened yet, so we have been playing games at any rink that I have been able to get ice,” said head coach Andy Gerow ’10. “We have played games at Winterhurst, but that isn’t necessarily where we will play all of our home games.”
Call them the Road Warriors. With the temporary closure of KSU Ice Arena, Walsh Jesuit will be playing their home games at OBM Arena in Strongsville. Walsh has also made arrangements to continue to host their three traditional in-season tournaments: the Walsh Thanksgiving Tournament (The Pond), the Greg Shupe Memorial Tournament (Strongsville), and the Cleveland Jesuit Classic (The Pond)...Walsh only lost one player to graduation, unfortunately that was 20-goal scorer Nate Colasanti. No other player scored more than nine goals last season (Hunter Nalepka). Sophomore Joshua Weiner (8-7-15) and juniors Noah Colasanti (6-11-17) and Aiden Cook (7-9-16) will be asked to pick up some of the slack. Walsh will have plenty of experience in net with juniors Zach Firment and Brodie Lerch heading into their third season as a varsity tandem.