With a 4-0 shutout of defending state champion Northview last Saturday at Sylvania’s Tam-O-Shanter, St. John’s Jesuit moved into the driver’s seat for the Northwest Hockey Conference’s Red Division championship, and held its No. 2 ranking in the state coaches poll.
The Titans (16-4-0 overall, 8-0-0 Red) got one goal each from Austin Kelly, Caleb Hauenstein, Ryan Rapp, and Jake Roman, and junior goaltender Mike Barrett stopped all 18 shots he faced to drop third-ranked Northview to 12-4-0, 3-1-0.
The win enabled the Titans to stay within range of No. 1 Cleveland St. Ignatius, which has beaten them in two of three meeting this season. St. Ignatius topped St. John’s by a pair of 3-2 counts on Nov. 25 and Dec. 21, but the Titans prevailed 2-0 in a Dec. 23 contest.
The Titans’ only other losses are to Michigan teams — Grosse Point Woods Liggett (5-0) and Saginaw Heritage (3-2) — both in December.
Kelly, a senior forward, leads 10th-year Titans head coach Mike Hayes’ team in scoring with 15 goals and 28 assists for 43 points, one point more than sophomore forward Ian Rapp (16-26—42).
Other top scorers for St. John’s include Colin Suter (14-19—33), Hauenstein (7-16—23), Ryan Rapp (5-18—23), and Adam Butler (12-10—22).
Barrett has posted a 14-3-0 record between the pipes, with a 1.63 goals against average and a .924 save percentage.
In Red Division play, the Titans have swept Bowling Green (8-1 and 4-2), Findlay (5-2 and 5-3), and Bedford (5-0 and 5-1), and have also clipped rival St. Francis de Sales (6-3).
St. John’s can clinch the division title Friday, when it faces Northview once again, this time in a 9 p.m. game at Tam-O-Shanter. The Titans’ final Red game will be against St. Francis, the 2011 state champion, on Jan. 26.
Hayes guided the Titans to a state championship in 2007, and to a state runner-up finish in 2009. Teams from the NHC’s Red Division have reached the state championship game in Columbus six of the past seven seasons, winning three titles during that span.
St. John’s will host its eight-team, Mark Rasmus Invitational during the Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday weekend (Jan. 17-19) at Tam-O-Shanter.
The Titans will compete in pool play against Parma Padua Franciscan, Mentor Lake Catholic, and Dublin Jerome, while St. Francis will take on Hunting Valley University School, Cincinnati Moeller, and Cincinnati St. Xavier in the other pool.
The final round on Jan. 19 will feature crossover games, including the championship matchup between the two pool winners.
Contact Steve Junga at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or 419-724-6461 or on Twitter@JungaBlade.