St. Francis de Sales goalie Mychael McAninch was the difference maker when the top-ranked teams in the state met up at Tam O'Shanter last night.
McAninch stopped all 30 shots he faced to lead the Knights to a 2-0 shutout of No. 1-ranked Northview. St. Francis got first-period goals from sophomore Scott Loy and senior Nick Wawrzyniak. The Knights then hung on desperately as they were outshot 23-6 over the final two periods.
McAninch, who is a senior, said he enjoyed facing the barrage in front of 1,200 fans.
"It kept me nice and warm," McAninch said. "It keeps me in the game. I usually don't face that many in a game."
Wawrzyniak, who is the second leading scorer in the Northwest Hockey Conference Red Division, said scoring the early goals proved pivotal.
"That was extremely important to get out front," he said. "Without those first two goals, this game could have gone either way. They were head to head with us all game long. They were very intense. We did not control them the whole time."
St. Francis could have clinched the division title, but a ruling by the Ohio High School Athletic Asso-ciation earlier this week forced the Knights to forfeit eight games.
"The state deemed that one of our kid's residency wasn't quite what it should be," St. Francis coach Brian Kinsella said. "It was a mistake by the school. We caught it and told the state and they told us that any games he played in we had to forfeit."
The issue revolved around sophomore Ed Klausner, a backup goalie who moved from Cincinnati to Michigan as a freshman and enrolled at St. Francis. Klausner appeared in eight games this season, including two league contests.
Klausner was removed from the team when the error was discovered. But his ineligibility now makes the Knights' record 14-11-3 overall and 7-2-1 in league play with forfeits to Southview and Findlay.
"As far as I'm concerned our team went 9-0-1," Kinsella said.
Despite the loss last night Northview (23-3-1, 6-2-0) can win the division championship with wins over Southview tonight and Bowling Green tomorrow. If the Wildcats win out they would have 16 points. St. Francis, which is ranked No. 2 in the latest coaches' poll, finished with 15 points in 10 games.
"We still have a lot to play for," Northview coach Jim Cooper said. "I truly believe [St. Francis] just wasn't aware of the situation."
The Wildcats looked like they were on the power play at the start with three shots in the first minute. But Loy opened the scoring with a long slap shot just inside the blue line only 3:15 into the game. The Knights added another goal on a breakaway about three minutes later.
"It hurt us because we felt compelled to shorten our bench," Cooper said. "It got us out of what we've done all year."
Chris Dyer sent a perfect feed up to Wawrzyniak who skated in all alone. Wawrzyniak beat Northview goalie Craig Trego to make it 2-0 with 6:15 left in the first.
"That gave me a great deal of confidence," McAninch said. "We always play better with the lead."
Trego, who finished with 12 stops, made a terrific glove save with seven seconds left in the first to keep it a two-goal game.
The Wildcats carried the play through the first half of the second period with a 5-1 advantage in shots and finished it with a 9-2 edge.
"They just kept coming in waves," Kinsella said.
The game turned chippy midway through the third period with the Wildcats failing on two brief 5-on-3 advantages. They had 14 shots in the third.
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