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Too Much of a Good Thing?

By Scott Harrington 04/24/2019, 2:15pm EDT

Weekend Tournaments Producing Diminishing Returns

Having worked in pro and junior hockey, I am familiar with the “three-in-three” concept.  When teams are trying to maximize attendance, or must consider players’ schooling, lots of games are crammed into weekends.

I can also tell you that the third game in three days tends to be $&%@ hockey…

So, what about the long-standing tradition of in-season high school hockey tournaments where teams routinely play four games in three days? – less than three days, really, when you consider the first is generally payed Friday night and the fourth is played Sunday morning.  Sometimes the championship tilt can be a good match-up, but how about those Sunday 8:00 a.m. seventh-place games?

It is difficult to measure the quality of a hockey game, but I don’t think many hockey players, parents or coaches would challenge the assertion that tired hockey players make for bad hockey games. 

The high school hockey culture is no different than youth hockey in that in tends to over-value the number of games young players cram into their schedule.  More games do not necessarily mean better development or better hockey.  There is something to be said for practice and rest.

Pat McKendry was the head coach at Walsh Jesuit from 2009-2019, where the Warriors host three tournaments per year at KSU Ice Arena.

McKendry had a problem with the standard high school tournament format, so he decided to change it up.  At each of the tournaments Walsh hosted during the 2018-19 season, teams played just once on Saturday.  To make up for some of the lost playing time, all tournament games consisted of three 17-minute periods instead of the OHSAA’s standard 15-minute periods.

The concept is less is more, or quality over quantity, when it comes to varsity competition.

“I always thought that playing two games in one day was a bit crazy and not very productive,” said McKendry.  “When talking with a few other coaches, we essentially came up with the same discussion points: #1 – it is to many games in a short amount of time, #2 – the second game on Saturday always has problems, and #3 – Playing 17-minute periods you don't lose much game time and the games are of a higher quality.  Truthfully it is a winning combination all around.”

While the quality of any given hockey game may be subjective, there are data points that can be collected on individual players through physical testing that compare how they perform in different environments.

To back his theory up with data, McKendry points to the research of Ken Martel, technical director of USA Hockey’s American Development Model.  With over 25 years of experience in player development, and a long history as a coach with USA Hockey, Martel is charged with helping to provide a framework for optimal athlete development for associations nationwide to follow.

Martel’s master’s thesis at Eastern Michigan University researched the T1EHL showcase setups, and our National U18 and U17 Teams, using the same technology that is being deployed in the NHL and others in high performance sports.

The full thesis paper, “Quantifying Changes in Accelerations and Heart Rate Indicative of Fatigue During Condensed Competitions in Elite Youth Ice Hockey Players” is available here for your reading enjoyment:

Saint Ignatius Makes it Four in a Row

By Kyle Kelly 03/09/2019, 3:30pm EST

Wildcats down Dublin Jerome in State Final

COLUMBUS, OH --- It was a record-setting day for the Saint Ignatius Wildcats as they defeated Dublin Jerome 7-2 in the OHSAA state championship game on Saturday, March 9, 2019, winning their fourth consecutive state title — the most championships won in a row in OHSAA Boys Ice Hockey history. Following the win, Saint Ignatius’ seven goals is the most they have ever scored in any of their previous six state championships, and their seventh state championship ranks second all-time for most ice hockey state championships in Ohio.

“It does not have that meaning yet. I am still excited. It has not quite sunk in yet,” head coach Pat O’Rourke told reporters after the game. “I have not thought about what it means in the whole history of Ohio hockey. I am sure we will someday but it is cool. We are very proud.”

Three of Saint Ignatius’ seven goals were scored by junior Joey Trobenter. He became the 11th player to score a hat trick in the state championship game. The most important goal of all was the one that he scored out of the gate in the third period, extending his team’s lead to three goals.

“That goal at the beginning of the third period was a back breaker. It put them up 5-2,” said Dublin Jerome head coach Pat Murphy. “If we could have gotten goal three, I do not know if the outcome would have been different … but that fifth goal kind of knocked the wind out of us.”

Saint Ignatius opened the game by scoring the first four goals, wasting no time to make their mark on the scoreboard early. Junior Matt Sullivan scored the first, skating on the left side of the ice and sniping Dublin Jerome senior goaltender Mike Bishopp over his right-side blocker 1:06 into the game.

Although the Celtics allowed a quick score, they were provided a prime opportunity to tie the game. Saint Ignatius senior Aedan Conway was called for interference 22 seconds later, putting Dublin Jerome on the power play for the first time.

It was no surprise to see a physical game, considering the implications of today’s game. Saint Ignatius senior goalie Benny Savarino was an exchange with a Dublin Jerome forward in front of the net, getting called for a slashing penalty -- As a result, the Celtics would gain their second man advantage.

Shots were hard to come by, as the Celtics were only able to throw two total pucks on net total during the two power plays. With no luck scoring, St. Ignatius took advantage by scoring on their own power play, as Trobenter tallied his first.

The Wildcats ultimately gained a 4-0 advantage in the early moments of the second period. Dublin Jerome elected to call a timeout, sparking an energized scoring run that was much needed.

“We took a time out to kind of regroup. The one thing we did not want to do is let the game get away from us. They were taking it from us at that point. I think we responded well after that time out. We refocused,” said Murphy

Dublin Jerome to Represent Columbus at State Final

By Kyle Kelly 03/08/2019, 7:00pm EST

Celtics top US in overtime

COLUMBUS --- At the 5:12 mark of overtime in the state semifinals, Dublin Jerome senior Nick Augenstein weaved through a pair of University School defenders, scoring five-hole on Preppers goalie Critter Coughlin, giving Jerome a 3-2 win and clinching the first state championship berth in program history for the Celtics.  It is also the first berth by Columbus District team in the history of the OHSAA State Hockey Tournament.

As the third period rolled around, the game was tied at two goals apiece. Both teams showcased strong play on the offensive end and had prime scoring chances, but getting one to fall was the difficult part.

The Preppers nearly found the back of the net twice at the nine- and eight-minute marks of the third period, and Dublin Jerome had their fair share of chances, but not one would get by the respective goaltenders. The third period ultimately featured 15 shots, with Coughlin and Jerome’s Mark Bishopp saving every one of them by standing tall in goal for their respective teams.

Augenstein finally came through in sudden-death.

“I was just trying to score one to end the game to get us to the state championship tomorrow. We are going to go out tomorrow and try and get another win,” he said.

Dublin Jerome will face three-time defending state champion St. Ignatius Wildcats at 11:00 A.M.

The meaning of clinching the first state championship game in program history rang true to the core for head coach Pat Murphy.

When asked if he could put it into words, “No, I cannot put it into words. What can I say? It has never happened before. One goal. After the disappointment.”

As Murphy fought back tears, senior Ryan Jenkins spoke for his coach. “I do not think anyone can put into words how hard the last 16 years have been. I am just thankful. We have been saying since the summer that this group is going to be the one to do it.”

It took a while for both teams to settle in to the atmosphere at Nationwide Arena where a crowd of approximately 1,400 fans were on hand. After just nine total shots combined between both teams, Dublin Jerome cracked the scoreboard first. From the left side, senior Trent Belli made a fantastic move on University School defenseman senior Jack Barrow. Trailing the play was sophomore Joel Kunzelman, finding the back of the net on a pass from Belli to make the score 1-0.

“Our start was slow. It was not the fastest start. I think it was huge. It gave us a huge boost at the beginning,” Belli said on his goal.

In the concluding minutes of the opening period, University School had a few scoring opportunities, but Dublin Jerome senior goaltender Mark Bishopp stopped each Peppers scoring chance, compiling six saves. The Celtics took a 1-0 lead into the locker room at the end of the first period.

University School came out in full force to start the second period. Just 35 seconds in, Dublin Jerome junior Avery Mlicki was called for a head contact penalty putting the Preppers on the powerplay. The Celtics effectively killed off the penalty, coming at the sacrifice of their top goal scorer, Belli.

Belli was attended to by the medical staff with seconds remaining on the man advantage. He was taken to the locker room and absent for the entire second period with an upper body injury. He eventually would come back for the third and fourth periods.

“Trent is obviously one of our key offensive players and leaders. He is our leading scorer. I thought we were taken back. When you hear him yell, you know he is hurt,” said Murphy. “Luckily he was able to get back in there. You are always concerned that he can get hurt again but when the trainers tell ya, he's good … I don't know? Are you keeping him off the ice?”

Despite losing their top scorer for the second period, Dublin Jerome was able to add their second goal of the morning at the 7:42 mark of the second period. Senior Evan Shea found the back of the net off a rebound from a strong shot from the point by junior defenseman Nolan Kunzelman.

Moments later, Shea was then called for head contact putting the Preppers on the power play for the second time of the day. With a man short, Dublin Jerome killed off the penalty. Although, a zero on the scoreboard would not remain for long for University School

Much like the opening minutes of the second period, the Preppers attacked on the offensive end in the final minutes of the period with two goals in the matter of 39 seconds. Sophomore John Pape scored the first one from the slot off a pass from junior Will Lvovich. Then, at the 3:08 mark, senior Henry Saada evened the score at two goals apiece.

University School head coach Andy Gerow felt the second period was pivotal for his team. “That is something that we have talked about all season. Up five, down five, tie game, we play our hockey,” he said. “We keep chipping away at it. Something this team has done all throughout the playoffs. They don’t flinch and they came back. Pape had a big goal there. Saada stepped up and tied the game going into the second period.”

At the end of the second period, University School held a slight 14-13 advantage on shots on goal. After a scoreless third period, they held the 22-20 advantage in shots but Bishopp continued to stay tall. He finished the game by making nine saves for his team.,

After 20:55 of scoreless play, Augenstein finally broke the ice, justifying the biggest goal in program history by celebrating towards a well-represented Dublin Jerome student section.

Dublin Jerome has a tall-task ahead as they will battle the St. Ignatius Wildcats team but they are up for the challenge. Murphy told reporters after the game that, “We have unfinished business.”


--- Kyle Kelly for Ohio Hockey Digest