The Titans used the momentum of the early goals to shut out Bowling Green 5-0 in a district semifinal game at Tam-O-Shanter.
Senior Austin Kelly scored two goals, including a crucial one just 1:33 into the contest. Sophomore Ian Rapp, who also scored twice, tallied a power play goal with 48 seconds left in the first period for a 2-0 cushion.
“We wanted a quick start tonight and we got it with that first goal. It was huge,” Kelly said. “We kept the momentum for the rest of the game. It was good going into the intermission with that two-goal lead.”
Junior goalie Mike Barrett finished with 16 saves to get the shutout.
Sophomore Derek Dohanos added a goal with 49 seconds left for the final margin.
The Titans (26-7-0) advance to the district title game for the third straight season. St. John's, which finished the season ranked No. 2 in the state coaches poll, will face the winner of today's semifinal between Northview and Findlay.
Senior Ryan Rapp had three assists, while junior Nick Gibb had two assists.
The Titans outshot the Bobcats 42-16, including 17-7 in the first period. St. John's coach Mike Hayes said the early goal calmed his pumped up team.
“Everyone was excited, but anxious,” Hayes said. “They want it bad. Obviously when Austin stepped up and scored that goal, it knocked the edge off. Guys could settle in and play their game.”
Barrett had two solid saves to keep the Bobcats off the board in the first period. He stoned Keegan O'Brien and stopped a good Dakota Bell chance. He also was strong in the second.
“When we get the first goal it makes me feel a lot more comfortable in the net. If I don't let in a goal, we can win 1-0,” Barrett said. “A two-goal cushion I like even more. It's calming and relaxes me.”
Kelly, the team's leading scorer, scored early on a great individual effort. Kelly displayed terrific stick handling to get in on Bowling Green goalie Tanner Fausnaugh and beat him.
“I just took what they gave me and put it into the net,” Kelly said.
Fausnaugh, a sophomore who finished with 37 saves, made the initial save on the Titans' second goal. He stopped Ben Hamilton's point blank shot but it flipped out of his glove. Ian Rapp pounced on the loose puck to make it 2-0 with 48 seconds left in the first.
“That was big, too,” Hayes said. “[Bowling Green] would have gone into the locker room trailing only 1-0 and thinking they had weathered the storm. The goals at the beginning and end were both big.”
St. John's made it 3-0 in the second on Kelly's second of the game and added two more goals in the third. Kelly tipped Ryan Rapp's shot from the point past Fausnaugh with 4:04 left in the middle period.
The first half of the second period with back and forth with each team getting two shots.
Fausnaugh had a key save on a St. John's two-on-one breakaway. The Titans killed off a Bobcat power play to keep the 2-0 lead.
The Bobcats had a great chance to get back into it with a 5-on-3 advantage for 1:12, spanning the end of the second and start of the third. The Titans killed it off.
“The defense helped out a ton,” Barrett said. “They blocked a lot of shots. I love when they sacrifice their body to help me out. And I like the feeling when I help them out when there is a break down.”
“We really wanted this one.”
Bowling Green (15-16-1) went 0 of 4 on the power play.
Hayes said the players and coaching staff studied video of the Bobcats' power play and saw things they thought they could take away.
“I thought we did a nice job of that,” Hayes said.
The Titans beat the Bobcats twice in the regular season by a combined score of 12-3.
St. John's, which won a state title in 2007, hasn't been back to Columbus since 2009. The Titans lost to the eventual state champs in the district final last year (Northview) and in 2011 (St. Francis).
“We'll celebrate this tonight,” Hayes said. “But it's back to work on Monday. We will make sure we are ready. We will put this behind us because it's not going to win us the game next week. We will refocus.”
Contact Mark Monroe at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6354 or on Twitter @MonroeBlade.