COLUMBUS - The Northview hockey team again had to settle for the title of second best in Ohio as Cleveland St. Ignatius dashed its dreams of winning the first state championship in school history Sunday.
The Wildcats of St. Ignatius knocked off Northview's Wildcats 4-1 in the state final at Nationwide Arena.
St. Ignatius (31-7-3) scored a goal in each of the first two periods before Northview senior Mark Hall instilled some drama with a blistering slap shot just
1:19 into the third period. But St. Ignatius then added to its 2-1 lead with two unanswered goals to capture its second state title.
Northview (21-9-3) was outshot 32-17 and was thwarted in its fourth trip to the state final. The Wildcats also finished second in 1982, 1990, and 2006.
"This may come across the wrong way, but that's not good enough," Northview coach Mike Jones said. "We're sick and tired of second place."
Northview sophomore goalie Austin Gryca played beyond his years. Gryca was solid and spectacular at times, finishing with 28 saves.
"Is he 25 yet? He played like it," Jones said. "I don't think he's 16 yet. He's a great athlete and a better kid. It was a tremendous performance by him today."
Northview had only two shots in the second period but the lopsided overall total was misleading as many shots missed high and wide.
"Unfortunately tonight we just didn't get enough rubber on the cage," Jones said. "We had a couple taps in there that went off the post or went through the crease. They just didn't go in. You have to capitalize on your chances."
Down 2-0, Hall breathed new life into the game with a slapper from the right circle.
"We had a lot of momentum going and had good scoring chances," Hall said. "We just couldn't get another in the net. It was really frustrating."
Jones said he thought the goal would put St. Ignatius in panic mode. The teams played to a 0-0 overtime tie in a regular season contest.
"It's going to sound crazy, but I thought the game was over," Jones said. "I thought we'd won the game. We were flying. But that's a good hockey club and they didn't do what I wanted them to do."
St. Ignatius coach Patrick O'Rourke said he thought Northview had seized momentum.
"When that happened it was like, 'Uh, oh,'" O'Rourke said. "I thought it would go to overtime. I guess it was just our time."
Paddy Spellacy put St. Ignatius back up by two goals with 10:03 left and then Cleveland went up 4-1 just 1:16 later on Sam Nader's power play marker.
Jones called Nader's shot an "any league goal," or one that no goalie at any level would have stopped.
"That's what broke the camel's back," Jones said.
St. Ignatius struck first 3:31 into the game when Colton Riemenschneider scored on a deflection. Chris Knoth then made it 2-0 with 3:10 left in the second period just after Northview had killed off a penalty.
Both schools had plenty of fan support and another large contingent from northwest Ohio filled the seats behind the Northview bench. The local student section was decked out in all-black attire.
In a physical first period, Northview went 0 of 3 on the power play and St. Ignatius was 0 of 2.
Aaron Booth missed a one timer that went through the crease, Dalton Carter's backhand shot sailed just wide, and then Jordan Jones' attempt also barely missed the mark.
Gryca had to be sharp early, stopping five of six shots over the first seven minutes. The sophomore finished with 12 saves in the first as St. Ignatius had a 13-7 edge in shots.
Northview could not cash in on a 5-on-3 advantage that lasted 35 seconds late in the opening period as Tyler Harding's shot tricked just wide.
St. Ignatius came out firing again to open the second and Gryca stopped two shots in the first 45 seconds. But Booth created a solo breakaway and he launched a slap shot that flew to the right of the net. Gryca made a sweeping glove save to keep it within 1 with 6:49 left and made three more saves before Knoth broke through.
Northview came out with jump in the third period and Booth had a good chance within the first 20 seconds.
Hall made it paid off with a goal 1:19 into the period to make it 2-1. St. Ignatius goalie Josh Potts finished with 16 saves, including seven in the final period.
"I knew they would pick up the momentum. I knew I couldn't let them tie it or get the lead. So I had to step up," Potts said.
Northview has earned a berth in the state final four eight times, but has yet to claim the ultimate prize.
"The kids gave everything they had and more," Jones said. "You have no idea what the coaching staff puts these kids through. It got them to a day like today. But second place for this program never will be good enough."
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The Northview hockey team again had to settle for the title of second best in Ohio as Cleveland St. Ignatius dashed its dreams of winning the first state championship in school history Sunday. The Wildcats of St. Ignatius knocked off Northview's Wildcats 4-1 in the state final at Nationwide Arena. St. Ignatius (31-7-3) scored a goal in each of the first two periods before Northview senior Mark Hall instilled some drama with a blistering slap shot just 1:19 into the third period. But St. Ignatius then added to its 2-1 lead with two unanswered goals to capture its second state title.