HIGH SCHOOL HOCKEY

Northview topples No. 2-ranked St. John’s to reach state

Wildcats still on late-season surge

3/2/2014
BY MARK MONROE
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Northview's Josh Koback cheers after scoring to put the Wildcats ahead of St. John's during the third period.
Northview's Josh Koback cheers after scoring to put the Wildcats ahead of St. John's during the third period.

Once again a surging Northview hockey team erupted in celebration at the expense of a bewildered St. John's Jesuit club in a district championship game.

The Wildcats stunned the Titans for the third straight year in the district title game at Tam-O-Shanter.

Northview upended favored St. John's 4-2 before a standing-room-only crowd.

The Titans (22-8-5) entered the contest ranked No. 2 in the state and they scored the game's first two goals.

Northview (16-13-1) responded with four goals, including three in the third period.

Senior Jacob Koback scored the game winner with 6:39 left in the game.

Koback added some cushion with a power play goal 39 seconds later.

St. John's Ryan Rafac, left, battles Northview's Ian Clement for control of the puck during the third period on Saturday.
St. John's Ryan Rafac, left, battles Northview's Ian Clement for control of the puck during the third period on Saturday.

“It's unreal,” Koback said. “Everyone has been talking about how St. John's is the team to beat and we got sick and tired of hearing it. So we just came out and played hard.

"We've talked about quiet confidence and that's pretty much what we have.”

Northview junior Zack Galecki tied the game at 2 with an unassisted goal on a breakaway 1:53 into the third period.

Wildcat senior goalie David Marsh stopped 23 shots, including 10 in the second period where he was the difference in the game.

Caleb Rau got the Wildcats on the board with a second-period goal.

Northview advances to the state semifinals for the third straight season.

The Wildcats won it all in 2012 and finished second last season. All three trips to Columbus came after upsets of the Titans.

“I'm not going to try to figure it out,” Northview coach Mike Jones said. “I'm just glad we came out on top again. It's mental. We told them to believe in something and you drive it home. They bought into it.”

St. John's saw its season end in the district title game for the fourth straight year overall.

“This is surreal,” St. John's coach Mike Hayes said. “I'm not sure what to say. Their goalie won them the game in the second period. We couldn't score.

"We didn't respond when they tied it up. That falls on me. I will take the blame on this one. It's obviously mental.”

St. John's senior Nate Miller scored 4:11 into the game.

The Northview hockey team piles on goalie David Marsh in celebration after clinching a third-straight district title over St. John’s on Saturday. Marsh had 23 saves for the Wildcats.
The Northview hockey team piles on goalie David Marsh in celebration after clinching a third-straight district title over St. John’s on Saturday. Marsh had 23 saves for the Wildcats.

Just 30 seconds later freshman Alex Bigelow gave the Titans' a 2-0 lead.

St. John's senior goalie Mike Barrett (17-8-5) finished with 16 saves.

Perhaps the tipping point came in the second period when the Titans put 11 shots on Marsh and he made every save. Marsh made two terrific saves a minute apart to keep his team within a goal. He helped kill off a potent St. John's power play late in the second.

“We played our hearts out and it was a battle but we came out on top,” Marsh said. “I think as a whole we all played very well. The defense was strong when I was down and out they covered me and I covered them. We have each others' backs.”

St. John's led 2-1 and had 1:30 on a power play to start the third period.

Northview killed it off.

“That was huge,” Jones said. “We took care of the [penalty] and then we went to work.”

Just seconds after the Titans' man advantage expired, Galecki hustled to a loose puck in the neutral zone and scored on a solo breakaway.

“It was all thanks to Josh Koback,” Galecki said. “He knocked the puck loose and I got the puck and I beat him five hole. I just made the shot I could make. It's amazing.

"We came together.”

Galecki raced in alone and scored through Barrett's legs to tie it at 2 early in the third.

“I call him one of my little grease balls and I say that with admiration,” Jones said. “It's s tip of the hat.

"He greased his way through traffic and worked his tail off and got the result.”

Momentum clearly shifted to Northview and the Wildcats asserted heavy pressure. Koback banged in a loose puck in the crease with 6:39 left for the decisive goal.

“I was sitting behind the net and the waiting for it to pop out and I got one,” he said.

Josh Koback's brother Jacob then won a draw on a faceoff and Josh fired it in to make it 4-2 with exactly six minutes left.

Hayes pulled his goalie twice in the last 1:41 but the Titans could draw no closer.

“It's amazing,” Jones said. “We came up a goal short down there last year and that is driving these kids. This is not routine. We've certainly worked for all we've gotten this year. We have two more to go.”

Contact Mark Monroe at: mmonroe@theblade.com, 419-724-6354 or on Twitter @MonroeBlade.