Upper Arlington was 36-0-1 under former head coach Brett Howden heading into last year’s Columbus District semifinal against New Albany. The Golden Bears were upset in that game and, while the team has not been as dominant during the 2020-21 regular season, the memory of what happened a year ago has motivated them to make good on their opportunity this time around.
They started by defending their Capital Hockey Conference tournament championship, winning the Blue Jackets Cup with a come-from-behind victory against top-seeded St. Charles.
“It was an historic win for our program,” said first-year head coach Hamish Baird. “We came in and worked hard and our boys really wanted it.”
Now the Bears set their sights on for the district title that eluded them a year ago.
“We feel like we have some unfinished business and have a shot at making a run to the district title,” Baird said. “We are very much looking forward to getting started.”
Junior forward Max Robins sparked the comeback in the CBJ Cup Final, scoring the game-tying and -winning goals in a 3-2 win. They were his 28th and 29th goals of the season in just 24 games played.
“That’s the kind of season he’s had”, said Dave Purpura of This Week News. “He has certainly become the go-to guy for them in big situations.”
Another player that endured last year’s heart-breaking loss in the districts and is back playing like a man on a mission is senior goaltender Garrett Alderman, who rocked a .934 save percentage in league play.
Eight of the 10 positions in the Ohio High School Hockey Coach’s Poll remained unchanged this week with two teams flipping spots.
The Olentangy Orange Pioneers (12-4-0) jumped up from #10 last week to #6, changing positions with the Talawanda Brave (12-3-2).
The top teams positions remained the same: #1 St. Edward (18-2-1), #2 Toledo St. Francis (16-3-1), #3 Gilmour Academy (10-6-2), #4 Saint Ignatius (11-7-2) and #5 Sylvania Northview (9-6-2).
St. Edward received eight of the nine first-place votes cast, with the other going to St. Francis.
There continues to be consensus around the top high school hockey team in Ohio this season. The third Coaches Poll of the season was released today and St. Edward (13-1-1) is still the only team to have received a first-place vote in any of the polls.
There was minimal movement in the top 10 with two pairs of teams swapping places. Gilmour Academy (5-3-1) moved up to #3, pushing Sylvania Northview (3-5-2) down to #4 in the process, and #5 Saint Ignatius (7-6-1) did the same to #6 Olentangy Liberty (5-1-1).
Gilmour’s convincing 7-0 win over Great Lakes Hockey League foe Shaker Heights convinced voters to move them up a notch even though it was the only game they had played in three weeks.
Ignatius had a strong showing at their Father Welsh Showcase, defeating Northview and Rocky River and dropping a one-goal decision to #2 Toledo St. Francis (12-3-1).