The five members of the Great Lakes Hockey League emerge from Holiday Tournament Mode this week and re-focus on the league race.
There are just four points separating first place from fifth as we enter the weekend, but there are three league games on the schedule that could lead to some separation from top to bottom.
Two of the three games involve Padua Franciscan. A best-case scenario for the Bruins (two wins and four points) would see them build a four-point lead atop the league standings.
Gilmour went undefeated (2-0-2) at their Brother James Tournament with wins over Top 10 teams from the Columbus and Toledo areas. The Lancers emerge from the holidays on a 4-1-2 run. They only have two points in the league standings but are very much in the race having only played one GLHL game – a 4-3 win over Shaker Heights at Thornton Park on December 3…GA rallied from a 3-0 deficit to tie Team Indiana (IN), 3-3, in the opening game of the tournament. Three different players scored in that game and four different skaters lit the lamp in a 4-1 win over Upper Arlington as the Lancers continue to benefit from balanced scoring…Gilmour heads to the Toledo area this weekend for a pair of tests against ranked teams: #16 Bowling Green and #8 St. Francis. The latter will be a battle of two Top 10 teams in the state with the Lancers ranked #6. GA defeated the Knights, 5-3, on December 4...Gilmour returns to league play on Tuesday hosting Padua Franciscan (4:10 p.m.).
At 2-0-0 in league play, Padua Franciscan finds itself in first place in the early stages of the league race and games at OBM Arena against Walsh Jesuit on Friday and Shaker Heights on Sunday provide an opportunity to build on that. The Bruins, currently ranked #7 in the state, have never won a regular season or tournament championship in the GLHL…Padua returned to action last weekend after an 11-day layoff following the Padua Holiday Hockey Tournament. The Bruins won two of three games at a tournament in Western Pennsylvania. Liam Conway scored twice in regulation and Colin Matier provided the game-winner with 29 seconds left in sudden-death in a 3-2 win over Baldwin (PA). In the final game of the event, Shane Helman scored twice in a 5-2 win over South Fayette (PA). Helman leads the GLHL in goals (16), assists (15) and points (31).
Shaker Heights has suffered losses in all three of their league games but can grab four points in the GLHL standings this weekend when they visit OBM Arena twice. The Red Raiders face Walsh Jesuit on Saturday at 4:50 p.m., then return to Strongsville on Sunday for a 2:10 p.m. face off with Padua…Sophomore forward Joey Moore scored both goals in a 5-2 loss to Walsh on December 27 – his first two goals of the season…Despite a disappointing 5-12-2 record, Shaker quality wins against Bowling Green (2x) and St. Charles on their resume and on four occasions have lost to a Top 10 team in the state by two goals or fewer. Don't sleep on the Red Raiders!......Senior goaltender Cooper Mears has made 247 saves this season – the second-most in the GLHL.
University School was rewarded for a strong holiday tournament season with a bump up to #4 in the OHSAA rankings from MyHockeyRankings. The Preppers moved up one spot and swapped places with #5 Sylvania Northview, which they have defeated twice this season. Noah Caballero stopped 22 of 23 shots and Samonte Martin and Ryder Beegun supplied the goals in a 2-1 win over the Wildcats December 28 at the Brother James Tournament. Caballero, a junior, boasts a 1.37 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage on the season. Caballero and classmate Cooper Pettipiece (1.43/.912) give US a potent 1-2 punch in net…Sunday morning (10:30 a.m. faceoff), US will visit the team directly ahead of it in the rankings when they play #3 St. Edward at Winterhurst Arena in Lakewood.
League games against Padua and Shaker give Walsh Jesuit (1-2-0 in league play) an opportunity to get back in the race this weekend. The Warriors started the season 7-2-0 but then went on a seven-game winless streak (0-6-1) that carried through their first appearance at the Padua Holiday Tournament. Following a 4-2 loss to Mentor on Boxing Day, Walsh turned things around with wins over Shaker Heights (5-2) and Rocky River (6-1). During the winless slide, the Warriors dropped four positions in the state rankings, but held steady at #13 this week...No other goaltender in the GLHL has faced as many shots (366) or made as made saves (333) as Walsh senior Tavian Parks.