Tara Byrne Photo
There are two games on the league schedule for the Great Lakes Hockey League this week and both involve University School. The Preppers play on the road at Padua Franciscan and Holy Name as they begin their GLHL schedule in earnest. US has only played one league game before this week, a 4-4 tie with Walsh Jesuit last Saturday.
The Ohio high school hockey season made it past a brief Christmas break, but this week is still prime time for holiday tournaments. Walsh Jesuit, St. Edward and Lake Catholic are all hosting tournaments this week.
The Great Lakes Hockey League schedule is two games longer than in previous years, but is balanced now. GLHL teams will play all six of their league rivals twice this season—once home and once away—for a total of 12 league games.
Not only does the new format ensure competitive balance in the schedule, it gives teams an opportunity to make adjustments the second time through the league and see how their game has developed.
“Playing each team twice gives teams a benchmark on their growth,” said Holy name head coach Tim Sullivan.
The GLHL shifts into a much heavier league schedule after the first of the year. Walsh Jesuit currently leads the league standings with 10 points, but every team behind them holds games in hand. University School actually holds six games in hand. So the race is really just beginning.
Another change as a result of the seven-team format comes in the post-season. The first-place finisher in the regular season standings will receive a bye in the quarterfinals of the Cleveland Cup tournament. They will go straight to the semifinals, so there is some extra incentive to keep an eye on the league standings in addition to bragging rights.
GILMOUR ACADEMY > Gilmour Academy is taking some time off this week. They have a two-week break, actually, between their 5-2 win over Padua Franciscan on December 23, and their return to action on January 5 when they begin hosting the Brother James Tournament...The Lancers have already hit double digits in wins this season (10-4-1). That puts them way ahead of where when the calendar flipped the last two years. They won three of their four games after Christmas last season and, in 2015-16, didn’t win a single game until January...Chris Lillstrung wrote a good article about the Lancers’ first-half success in the News-Herald (www.news-herald.com).
HOLY NAME > The Green Wave are 3-1-1 in their last five games, including 2-1 wins over Gilmour and Meadville (PA) in their last two. Junior forward Sebastiano Layne had the game-winning goal in each of those games. Layne leads the team with 12 goals on the season...Both Namers goaltenders had a hand in the 2-1 wins. Senior Anna Cvitkovich stopped all 10 shots in the third period, and 22 of 23 overall, to preserve the one-goal league win over Gilmour Academy. Junior crease-mate Ross Conforto, meanwhile, allowed just one of 28 shots to elude him in the non-league win over Meadville...The Namers are looking for their first-ever win over University School when they host the Preppers on Saturday night. Holy Name is 0-9-0 in the all-time series.
LAKE CATHOLIC > Lake Catholic is hosting their annual holiday tournament this week. The Cougars played Team Audi and North Royalton in their first two round-robin games and will face off with the rival Mentor Cardinals on Friday night...The Cougars defeated Team Audi earlier in the season by a 7-1 score...Following their tournament, the Cougars will play one more non-league game against Benedictine on January 3 before closing out their regular season with eight league games.
PADUA FRANCISCAN > Padua will play just one game in the two-week period from December 23 to January 5, but it will be a big one. The Bruins will host the University School Preppers in a league game at OBM Arena in Strongsville on Friday night. One of the keys to success for the Bruins will be to generate some offense. Padua has not scored more than two goals in a game since their last win—a 4-3 overtime victory over Lake Catholic in their December 8 league opener.
ST. EDWARD > St. Edward hosts their annual Eagle Classic this week. In addition to GCHSHL power Shaker Heights, the Eagles will face a pair of top-division teams from the Columbus-area: Upper Arlington and New Albany. Both teams are in the Red Division of the Capital Hockey Conference. The UA Golden Bears are coached by former Columbus Blue Jacket David Clarkson, who was an assistant under long-time University School bench boss Bill Beard last season...St. Edward has played more games (18) than any other GLHL team heading into the final week of 2017...Andrew Stewart leads the league in wins (9) and shutouts (4).
UNIVERSITY SCHOOL > University School took their time opening their league slate, but will make up for it this week and next. The Preppers will play league games at Padua and Holy Name this Friday and Saturday, respectively, then play a home-and-home series with St. Edward next Saturday (home) and Sunday (away)...US boasts a nine-game winning streak against Friday’s opponent Padua. The Bruins’ only win over US since 2009 came 3-2, in overtime, on January 23, 2011.
WALSH JESUIT > Walsh Jesuit enters the Greg Shupe Memorial Tournament on a six-game unbeaten streak (4-0-2) and is 7-1-2 over their last 10. The Warriors have played more league games (7) than any other GLHL team, so they are giving up some games in hand, but they enter the weekend atop the league standings with 10 points from four wins, a tie and an overtime loss…Walsh will face some quality competition at the tournament with preliminary games scheduled against Columbus-area powers Dublin Jerome and St. Charles in addition to perennial GCHSHL contender Rocky River. “We love hosting teams the teams that have come to this tournament for years,” said Walsh head coach Pat McKendry. “Rocky River, Sylvania Northview, Dublin Jerome, and St. Charles have been long time participants and it has become a very top-tier tournament.” Jerome has scored 80 goals in 16 games this season (5.00/game) while allowing only 25. “The Kent State Ice Arena and our parents to a great job organizing and running the event as well,” McKendry added. “Competing against teams of this quality is always a challenge and very fun to be a part of as a program.”
Walsh Jesuit senior forward Jonathan Gabriel is the Great Lakes Hockey League Player of the Week for the week leading up to the Christmas break.
Gabriel leads the Warriors with 12 goals and 18 points. Eight of his goals have come in Great lakes Hockey League play—tops in the league. He has scored multiple points in six straight games, producing 14 points (9-5-14) in that span.
“Johnny has been outstanding for us this season,” said Walsh head coach Pat McKendry. “He has done it all and, as coaches, we are so proud of how he has played and goes about his business as an athlete.”
Included in that scoring spree is a hat trick against University School on December 23.
“His skill set is so unique based on his size and strength,” McKendry said. “We are so glad he is wearing the maroon and gold and we don’t have to face him every night!”
Gabriel and the Warriors will try to keep their hot streak going this week as they host the Greg Shupe Memorial Tournament at KSU Ice Arena.
Andrew Tomer, St. Edward (Dec. 8); Andrew Stewart, St. Edward (Dec. 16); Cole Horvath, Lake Catholic (Dec. 20)
Jamie Bucell’s senior year at Holy Name, 2013-14, was the inaugural season of the Great Lakes Hockey League and he terrorized the league along with line mates Tim Higginbotham and GLHL Player of the Year Joe Meehan.
Bucell scored eight points (3-5-8) in 10 league games and was named Second Team All-GLHL as the Namers went 7-3-0 in league play.
Bucell went on to play three full seasons of Junior A hockey on the East Coast which ultimately paid off with an opportunity to play NCAA Hockey at Division III Utica College.
After a season with the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs, Bucell moved to the Philadelphia Little Flyers of the Eastern Hockey League (EHL), where he played with Higginbotham during the 2015-16 season.
The 5’11”, 185-pound speedster returned to Philadelphia for his last year of junior hockey in 2016-17 and put up career numbers, producing 50 points (22-28-50) in 48 regular season games and adding nine (2-7-9) in 12 playoff games as the Little Flyers advanced all the way to the EHL championship series where they lost to the rival Philadelphia Jr. Flyers in a best-of-five series, three games to two, with the final two games being decided in overtime.
He made his collegiate debut on October 27 against Fredonia, collecting an assist in the Pioneer’s 7-3 win. Utica was in the Top 10 in the nation in the most recent www.d3hockey.com rankings.
“Jamie is a great example of what hard work can accomplish,” said Holy Name head coach Tim Sullivan. “He never takes his next shift for granted and it has propelled him to NCAA hockey.”