Note: Ohio Hockey Digest will be posting updates here all weekend, including box scores, updated standings and game summaries.
Twelve of the top high school hockey programs from all around the state of Ohio gather at OBM Arena in Strongsville this weekend for the 22nd annual Padua Holiday Hockey Tournament – one of the top in-season tournaments on the OHSAA hockey calendar every year.
The 12-team field for this year’s tourney has accumulated 30 state championships – and the winner of the Padua Tournament has gone on to win their district 14 of the last 18 years. The 2017 state championship game was a re-match of that season’s Padua Tournament championship, with Saint Ignatius topping St. Francis in both. In 2014-15 and 2010-11 St. Francis won both the Padua and State Tournaments, as did Sylvania Northview in 2011-12, Toledo St. John’s in 2006-07 and Padua in 2005-06.
Saint Ignatius, winner of the last two tournaments, will not be in Strongsville this weekend to defend their title. Seven-time Ohio state champion Shaker Heights, the newest member of the Great Lakes Hockey League, jumped at the chance to fill the coveted slot.
Many of the participating teams have been coming back for a long time, knowing they will get top-flight competition and a look at contending teams from other districts.
Findlay and St. John’s have been coming since the beginning when it was a six-team event. In 2006 it grew to eight teams and Sylvania Northview started competing. That began to give the tournament a Cleveland vs. Toledo feel.
In 2010, St. Francis replaced Strongsville and it became a four-on-four Cleveland vs. Toledo battle. But just two years later Saint Ignatius was included along with the first Columbus-are entry: Olentangy Liberty.
The tournament expanded again in 2016, from 10 teams to 12, allowing Holy Name and St. Charles to get in on the fun. Upper Arlington replaced Lake Catholic in 2017, giving the Capital Hockey Conference three of the 12 slots.
The 12 teams are divided into two divisions (“East” and “West”) with each playing three preliminary round games – one Friday and two Saturday – against teams from the other group. The “East” Division consists of Upper Arlington and five Cleveland-area teams: Holy Name, St. Edward, Shaker, University School and, of course, the host Bruins.
The “West” Division consists of the Northwest Hockey Conference’s entire four-team Red Division – Toledo St. Francis, Toledo St. John’s, Sylvania Northview and Findlay – along with Columbus area powers Olentangy Liberty and St. Charles.
Upper Arlington, Liberty and St. Charles will be looking to give the Columbus area their first win at the prestigious event.
In addition to earning two points for a win and one point for a tie, each period is worth one point (teams each get a half-point for a tied period). At the end of the preliminary round, teams will be ranked 1-6 within each division based on the number of points they have accumulated.
On Sunday, every team will play a cross-over game for final placement. The championship game will take place at 3:10 p.m.
The host Padua Franciscan Bruins have won the tournament a record six times (1997, 198, 1999, 2000, 2004 & 2005).
St. Edward (2002, 2003 & 2008), Saint Ignatius (2016 & 2017) and University School (2001 & 2009) make it 13 titles total for the Cleveland area.
St. John’s (2006, 2012 & 2013) and St. Francis (2010, 2014 & 2015) have each given the Toledo area bragging rights three times and Northview twice (2007 & 2011).
The tournament is timed perfectly as it will bring together highly competitive teams from different parts the first state just before the first coach’s poll comes out on Monday.
--- Scott Harrington for Ohio Hockey Digest