The Toledo St. Francis Knights, winners of five of the last six Sylvania district titles, enter the 2021 tournament as the #1 seed and the #2 ranked team in the state of Ohio.
Head coach Chris Varga’s team has taken on a very challenging schedule yet managed to post a stellar 23-3-3 record. St. Francis has not lost a game since December 28 when it was defeated by an elite out-of-state team from New Trier, IL.
The Knights, who are the last team from the district to win the Ohio state title (2015), came down the stretch winning 16 games in a row before tying Saint Ignatius in their final regular season game.
The Sylvania District is always competitive, with some great rivalries, but the main challengers trying to topple St. Francis have some holes.
Sylvania Northview, the #2 seed, likely has the best chance of interrupting another St. Francis run. The Wildcats got off to a slow start after going through a three-week shutdown earlier in the season, then got things going after the first of the year, rattling off six straight wins and moving up to the #5 spot in the state coach’s poll which is where they resided for the second half of the season.
Perrysburg is the #3 seed despite coming in under .500 in Northwest Hockey Conference play (5-7-0). The Yellowjackets endured an 0-6-0 stretch in January and did not win any league league games against the top three teams in the NHC standings. They were seeded ahead of Findlay despite dropping 7-2 and 7-3 games to the Trojans. The play of forward Jake Ruby and goaltender Sam Yonker gives Perrysburg some swagger.
The #4 seeding is not a small thing for Findlay, as they find themselves opening the tournament with a tough match-up against #5 Toledo St. John’s, led by first-year head coach Derrick Stumm and senior goaltender Will Halker on Saturday. The Trojans defeated Northview, 4-3, on January 24 but otherwise lack resume-building wins.
Dark horses include(d) St. John’s, Bowling Green and Anthony Wayne. The Bobcats and Generals already faced off in an opening-round game which BG won in overtime, 3-2. Bowling Green moves on to face Perrysburg on Saturday.
As I post this, Oregon Clay and Toledo Whitmer have also been eliminated.
Click on the OHSAA logo below to see an updated Sylvania District Bracket
Click on the On Air podcast logo below to hear our state-wide league tournament wrap-up and district tournament preview episode!
--- Scott Harrington for Ohio Hockey Digest