St. John's Kyle Knox, left, and Tommy Goetz of University School collide near the boards yesterday during the state hockey final at Nationwide Arena in Columbus. The Titans finished 27-9-3.
DAVID SMITH Enlarge
COLUMBUS - Sometimes even the momentum of an 11-game winning streak and a mammoth rout in the previous game aren't enough to carry a team to victory.
St. John's Jesuit ran into a fast-skating, sharp-shooting squad from University School Sunday, losing 3-0 in the state championship game at Nationwide Arena.
The Titans produced the most lopsided win in a state semifinal since 1996 in a 7-0 rout of Centerville on Saturday, but Sunday they were on the other side of the domination.
The Preppers peppered St. John's with 28 shots on goal, including 20 in the last two periods when the game was decided.
The Titans could muster only 10 shots against University School goalie Jamie Regan, who earned the shutout. St. John's had five shots on goal in the second, their most of any period.
"We could never get control in the offensive zone," said St. John's coach Mike Hayes, who led the Titans to their first and only state title in 2007.
"It kind of felt like we were playing catch-up even when it was 0-0."
The teams played to a scoreless tie in the first period after each squandered one power-play opportunity.
University School finally broke through at 13:30 of the second period when senior forward Charlie Clark took a feed from junior forward Matt DeGulis in between the circles and sniped the puck into the top right corner of the goal.
"We knew this game was going to be close from the get-go," St. John's senior forward Ray Morris said. "Every time we play U-School, [it seems like] it's always a one-goal game. Last time we played we went to overtime with them, so we knew the importance of the first goal. It was just unlucky that they struck first."
After senior forward Pat Shedlock won the opening faceoff of the third period, sophomore forward Ian Robertston carried the puck just inside the blue line and ripped a slapshot that beat goalie Christian Davis (25 saves) glove-side five seconds into the period for a 2-0 advantage.
Senior forward Andy Neff kept the momentum going nearly two minutes later, skating in from the right wing and wristing a shot top shelf past Davis at 2:49 for a three-goal lead.
"Obviously that goal [to start the third period] was a little bit of a heartbreaker," St. John's senior defenseman Luke Stansfield said. "We still had the whole third period to battle back. We just couldn't quite get it together, get the pucks in the net."
In their 14th appearance at the state final, the Titans earned their first runner-up trophy and finished the season 27-9-3.
"I know it kind of stinks right now," Hayes said. "Guys are upset and rightfully so, but you can't take away what they accomplished this year. What they did this year, especially in the second half of the year, I couldn't be more proud."
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