Four teams have their eyes on the coveted Cleveland Cup this weekend in what is the most wide-open post-season tournament in the five-year history of the Great Lakes Hockey League.
St. Edward, Walsh Jesuit and Gilmour Academy posted quarterfinal wins earlier in the week as the top seeds from what was a very tight regular season race have all advanced.
The University School Preppers, meanwhile, rested up this week having earned a first-round bye. They will make their post-season debut Friday against St. Edward in the early semifinal.
The Eagles defeated Holy Name, 4-1, on Tuesday evening with three points (1-2-3) from All-GLHL freshman forward Tanyon Bajzer and 20 saves on 21 shots by senior goaltender Andrew Stewart.
Walsh Jesuit defeated Padua, 7-3, behind a hat trick from All-GLHL forward Jonathan Gabriel.
In the most exciting game of the post-season thus far, Gilmour Academy needed a game-tying goal with from Matt Mangel with :06 left in regulation and a double-overtime game-winner from John Treppo to eliminate Lake Catholic, 3-2.
Junior goaltender Patrick Kristo made 49 saves to keep the Cougars in the game as they battled through two overtimes with a short bench.
GILMOUR ACADEMY > Gilmour’s dramatic double-overtime win over Lake Catholic on Wednesday was the Lancer’s first-ever victory in the winners bracket of the Cleveland Cup. They defeated Holy Name, 6-3, in a consolation bracket game in 2015...Junior goaltender Duncan Nichols-Delay is the GLHL’s All-League goalie, but it was senior Payton Wetzel between the pipes in the double-OT thriller on Wednesday. Wetzel was sharp himself, picking up his seventh win and lowering his goals-against average to 1.68 on the season...Gilmour will open play in the Kent District on Saturday, February 17 at 5:15 p.m. against the winner of NDCL-CVCA.
HOLY NAME > Holy Name is coming off their strongest season in league play since the GLHL’s inaugural season of 2013-14, which was the second year in a row they made it to the district finals...A 1-0 loss to GA in the regular season finale was a tough way to have a personal seven-game unbeaten streak (5-0-2) snapped for senior goaltender Anna Cvitkovich. Cvitkovich was 2-2-2 with a 3.25 goals-against average and .873 save percentage through the Padua Holiday Hockey Tournament, but went 5-1-1/1.36/.947 for the balance of the regular season...The Namers are the #3 seed in the Brooklyn District and open play on Wednesday, February 14 with an 8:00 p.m. game against Garfield Heights. The Bulldogs were 3-9-0 in the GCHSHL Blue South.
LAKE CATHOLIC > The Cougars came very close to pulling off a big upset on Wednesday and, even though they couldn’t come up with the game-winning goal in sudden-death, they should be able to take some positives out of that effort and bring some momentum into the district tournament...Lake Catholic defeated Holy Name in quarterfinal games in 2014 & 2015, but has gone out in the first round the last three years...Junior goaltender Patrick Kristo led all GLHL goaltenders with 284 saves in league play this season. His 558 saves overall also leads all goalies from GLHL squads...Junior forward Cole Horvath scored 29 goals in 29 regular season games...Lake Catholic will open play in the Kent District against Canfield at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday with Cleveland Heights awaiting the winner of that game.
PADUA FRANCISCAN > The Padua Franciscan Bruins were eliminated by Walsh Jesuit in a Cleveland Cup Quarterfinal game for the second time in three years...The Bruins did not win the game, but they did score three times against an elite opponent—a good sign for a team that has struggled to find the net with regularity this season...Padua’s Evan Acino has collected 103 penalty minutes this season and a second Bruins, Trent Cramer, is closing in on the century mark with 97...Padua will be back in action on Tuesday when they face off against North Olmsted in a 5:30 p.m. game at Brooklyn.
ST. EDWARD > No freshman was ever been named to the GLHL All-Star Team until this year when not one, but two, St. Edward Eagles were so honored—forward Tanyon Bajzer and defenseman Tyler Fowles...St. Edward is the only team other than Saint Ignatius or University School to play in a Cleveland Cup Final, having defeated the Preppers, 3-1, in last year’s semifinals to make it into the championship game where they dropped a 5-2 decision to the rival Wildcats. The Eagles have won their Cleveland Cup Quarterfinal each of the last four years...Following the Cleveland Cup, St. Edward will not play again until next Sunday, February 18, when they will play their first game of the Brooklyn District against the winner of Chagrin Falls-Avon (12:00 p.m. puck drop). The Eagles are the second seed in the bracket behind Saint Ignatius.
UNIVERSITY SCHOOL > Junior forward Jack Henry Muha won the GLHL scoring title with 20 points (11-9-20) in 12 league games. Muha is the third Prepper in the last four years to lead the league in scoring (Evan Krueger 15-6-21 in 2014-15 and JD Clemens 10-12-22 in 2015-16)...Senior forward Ethan Whetstone and junior defenseman George Brinn garnered Great Lakes Hockey League All-League honors...The Preppers go after their fourth straight Kent District title and 13th in the last 20 years beginning on Friday, February 16 at 6:00 p.m. when they face the winner of Kent Roosevelt-Nordonia. US is the #1 seed in the district.
WALSH JESUIT > Walsh senior Jakhari Desphy, who led all GLHL goaltender with seven wins in league play this season, completed his four-year run as the Warriors’ starter with 19 wins, 1,938 minutes and 866 saves in league play—all of which stand as league records (regular season only)...Jonathan Gabriel’s 10 goals in 12 league games earned him a spot on the GLHL All-Star Team, and he built on that with a three-goal performance in Walsh’s 7-3 Cleveland Cup Quarterfinal win over Padua...The Warriors will play the winner of Aurora-Twinsburg in their first game of the Kent District tournament on Sunday, February 18 at 2:00 p.m.
Lake Catholic junior forward Jacob Schmitt was the Great Lakes Hockey League Player of the Week for the final week of the regular season.
Schmitt picked up a pair of assists in the Cougars’ 6-0 win over Padua Franciscan, then scored both Lake Catholic goals in a loss to Walsh Jesuit in the regular season finale.
“We had a good league win and a bad loss but he showed up in both games both as a distributor and a finisher,” said Lake Catholic head coach Justin Vance. “You know Jacob is going to show up every game and every day for practice. He gives you 100% effort every time he touches the ice and plays the game the right way.”
The second-year varsity player has points in 11 of his last 13 games, producing 22 points (11-11-22) in that span. With a year of eligibility remaining, has an opportunity to be an elite player in the state next year.
“I'm happy to see him get recognized this week,” said Vance. “He's deserved it all year.
PREVIOUS WINNERS: Andrew Tomer, St. Edward (Dec. 8); Andrew Stewart, St. Edward (Dec. 16); Cole Horvath, Lake Catholic (Dec. 20); Jonathan Gabriel, Walsh Jesuit (Dec. 29); Tyler Fowles, St. Edward (Jan. 5); Kyle Flatow, University School (Jan. 10); George Brinn, University School (Jan. 17 & 24); Ethan Whetstone, University School (Jan. 31)