Ohio’s tournament season begins this week with the sixth annual Cleveland Cup—the post-season championship tournament for the Great Lakes Hockey League.
All eight GLHL teams participate in this single-elimination tournament with all seven games played at OBM Arena in Strongsville.
Gilmour Academy enters this year’s tournament as not only the defending champion, but the #1 seed. The Lancers, the #1 ranked team in the entire state of Ohio, have lost just three games this season—but two of them are in the field for this tournament.
Gilmour will begin their title defense In Tuesday’s early game against the Padua Franciscan Bruins, who have played some of their better hockey of the season in the last few weeks.
Tuesday’s nightcap will feature two teams that tied in the standings. Shaker Heights—in their inaugural campaign in the GLHL—and rival University School both earned 11 points in the league standings. The Red Raiders, on the strength of a pair of one-goal wins over the Preppers in the regular season, are the higher seed and the “home” team for their quarterfinal match-up.
Holy Name finished one point back of the Lancers and, as the #2 seed, draws Walsh Jesuit in the quarters. The Namers are coming off their best regular season showing in league play and, as the highest-scoring team in the GLHL, are looking to make a serious run at the Cleveland Cup.
St. Edward has seven Baron Cups (and 11 state championship) to their name, but have yet to win the Cleveland Cup and would like to get their first this year. First up for the Eagles are the Lake Catholic Cougars, winners of 20 games this season, in the late game on Wednesday
|FORWARD||Jacob Schmitt||senior||Lake Catholic|
|FORWARD||Brennan Dickey||junior||Holy Name|
|FORWARD||Tanyon Bajzer||sophomore||St. Edward|
|DEFENSE||George Brinn||senior||University School|
|DEFENSE||Tyler Budzar||senior||St. Edward|
|GOALIE||Toby Herlong||sophomore||Gilmour Academy|
|COACH||Tim Sullivan||16th season||Holy Name|
|SPORTSMANSHIP||(tie)||P. J. Calleri (Walsh)||Henry Saada (US)|
|PLAYER OF THE YEAR||TBA Saturday|
GILMOUR ACADEMY > The defending Cleveland Cup champions, the Gilmour Academy Lancers head into the post-season on a nine-game winning streak. After picking up the two points they needed to secure the regular season title with a win over Padua Franciscan on Friday, the Lancers hosted Toledo St. John’s and Kiski School (PA) over the weekend to gear up for their post-season run. As the defending Cleveland Cup champs, the top seed for the tournament, and #1 ranked team in the state, they are the team to beat...Gilmour has not been a prolific offensive team (3.53 goals/game) but they have been extremely stingy (1.50 goals allowed/game). Herlong’s single goal allowed in the team’s regular season finale against Kiski School raised his season goals-against average to 0.76.
HOLY NAME > The Green Wave of Holy Name came up a single point short of first place in league play but still, at 8-2-0 in the GLHL, they had their best showing. The Namers were also one of just three teams to knock off GA in the regular season, beating them 3-2 in overtime on November 30...Junior forward Brennan Dickey (11-7-18) and senior forward Sebastiano Layne (9-9-18) ended up in a three-way tie with Lake Catholic’s Jacob Schmitt (11-7-18) for the league scoring title (GLHL games only).
LAKE CATHOLIC > Lake Catholic draws St. Edward in the quarterfinals. The Cougars knocked them off Eagles by a score of 6-4 the last time the two teams played on January 9, snapping an eight-game losing streak to St. Edward. That has to give Lake Catholic confidence going into this match-up...Heading into the tournament season, Lake Catholic senior forward Jacob Schmitt leads all GLHL skaters in goals (33) and points (60) in all games...There have been a total of four overtime games in the history of the Cleveland Cup (two in 2014 and two in 2018). Lake Catholic was involved in each of the first three. Last year’s championship game (won by GA 3-2 over US) was the fourth.
PADUA FRANCISCAN > Padua Franciscan heads into the Cleveland Cup tournament looking to advance past the quarterfinals for the first time. The Bruins draw Gilmour Academy—a team they just played on Friday night. Senior forward Justin Eles leads Padua in goals (11) and points (16) points this season and has figured in 44% of the Bruins goals on the campaign (16/36).
ST. EDWARD > Don’t sleep on the St. Edward Eagles. They have been somewhat over-shadowed by Gilmour’s dominant record this season—and their #1 ranking in the state—and Holy Name fended them off in the league standings, but the Eagles have been right there all season, ranked #3 in the state most of the year. They have a scoring star in sophomore forward Tanyon Bajzer (31-22-53), scoring depth, and a goaltender that can steal games when he’s on. The Eagles should have a run in them as they look for their first Cleveland Cup championship.
SHAKER HEIGHTS > The Shaker Heights Red Raiders fared well in their maiden voyage in the GLHL regular season, finishing in the middle of the pack, and now they get their first taste of the Cleveland Cup. The Red Raiders jump right in with both feet with a closely-matched quarterfinal with rival University School. The two teams finished with identical 5-4-1-0 records in league play and played each other very tight in two regular season meeting—both won by Shaker 4-3 (OT) and 1-0.
UNIVERSITY SCHOOL > University School will have to run the gauntlet if they want to win their first Cleveland Cup this year. They drew Shaker Heights in the quarterfinals and would likely run into the #1 team in the state, Gilmour Academy, in the semifinals should they advance. Shaker may have defeated the Preppers’ number twice already this season, but it is tough to beat a quality opponent three times in a row so you could make the argument US is due. I’m sure the Preppers would gladly trade those two regular season games for a win over Shaker on Wednesday night.
WALSH JESUIT > Walsh Jesuit seems to win its Cleveland Cup quarterfinal game every other year, advancing in 2014 (1-0 over St. Edward), 2016 (6-1 over Padua Franciscan) and 2018 (7-3 win over Padua Franciscan). But the Warriors are 0-3 in the semifinals. Walsh is icing a young team this season so, realistically, any kind of run in a post-season tournament is more about gaining experience. Head coach Pat McKendry and his charges would no doubt like to extend their season and play as many tournament games as possible.
Tyler Alt, a senior forward with the University School Preppers, is the Great Lakes Hockey League Player of the Week for the period ending February 3.
Alt scored the lone goal for US in a 3-1 loss to Gilmour Academy and notched a hat trick as the Preppers defeated Padua Franciscan, 9-0, in their final regular season game of the 2018-19 season.
“Tyler is a crafty player that has been a huge part of this year’s success,” said University School head coach Andrew Gerow. “Tyler not only plays on our top forward line but is a key contributor on our penalty kill and power play.”
Alt leads the Preppers in goals this season (15), and his 30 points are second only to US leading scorer Jack Henry Muha (13-24-37).
“Coaches always say big time players show up in big time games and this could not be more true of Tyler,” Gerow said. “Whenever we have needed a spark this season, Tyler has been there to lift the team with a big goal or play.”
PREVIOUS WINNERS—Tanyon Bajzer (St. Edward), November 28; Dominic Cassamatta (Gilmour Academy), December 5; Brennan Dickey (Holy Name), December 19; Geremy Davison (Walsh Jesuit), January 4; Niko Negron (Holy Name), January 11; Amaedeo Cantini (Lake Catholic), January 18; Jacob Schmitt (Lake Catholic), January 23; Domenic Cassamatta (Gilmour Academy), January 30