Hockey Thrills, Upsets and Noise
Lots of high school hockey in St. Catharines these past four days with 40 teams from across the province, big schools and small schools and some in-between, hoping this would be the year that they go home with gold medals.
Have to admit, some very impressive players and teams. But lots of hockey and it really came down to desperation, fitness and some luck.
Top-ranked St. Marcellinus from Mississauga lost one game this year — for the Ontario triple/quad-A gold medal.
Yikes, tough blow for a school that opened seven years ago, has an excellent hockey program and now has back-to-back silver medals. Nothing wrong with that, right? Well, they were looking for gold and goalie Ryan Lenardon has been spectacular this year - five shutouts in seven provincial playoff games too. The Denis Morris Redmen, from St. Catharines, ranked No. 2 and playing with a boisterous home crowd that repeatedly chanted abuse at Lenardon, may have helped.
Some people sitting beside me also didn't like the drums and noise-makers pounding away that caused problems for players who couldn't hear the whistles of officials. Maybe I am wrong, but I thought these kind of things were a no-no by OFSAA. Says so in their rules. I do remember a drum being taken away at the basketball playoffs in Oshawa. Maybe the rules have changed since then.
I was also kind of curious about the hockey nickname for Denis Morris - the Redmen and the chant that goes with it. There was quite a bit of stink in Toronto about political correctness. Names, like the Runnymede Redmen, were changed and there was a rash of others. Out here, apparently it's all right.
And players should learn not to think a game is over - until it is. The local favorites were cheering for St. Michael from Niagara Falls, leading 3-2 in the single/double-A final with seconds left in the third. Then, a goal by St. Mary of Sault Ste. Marie with 4.3 seconds left in regulation. There's more, 46 seconds into OT and - St. Mary scored to celebrate the long bus trip home with a second consecutive trophy.
One final note about hockey before we close the lid for another year. The Richview Saints. Yes, they were the only Toronto high school to win a hockey medal. It was bronze, but so what. The Saints came in ranked No. 13 of 20 schools in the single/double-A. They left No. 3. Take a bow, fellas.