Article:Another Year, Another Showcase for the State: Padua Hockey Tournament Preview
Over the past sixteen years, the Padua Christmas Tournament has established itself as possibly the biggest high school hockey tournament in the state of Ohio, except of course the OHSAA State Tournament.
Don’t believe me? Five times overall and in four of the last seven years, the winner of this very tournament at OBM Arena (Iceland USA) in Strongsville has gone on to win the State Championship. The Wildcats of Sylvania Northview did it last season, and in 2010 the tournament final was a direct precursor to the state final: Toledo St. Francis defeated Lakewood St. Edward. In four separate years, the runner-up in this tournament became the State Champion, and there were also four seasons where the Championship Game of this Tournament also ended up being the State Championship game in March.
Once again, the field is stacked with the best teams from across the entire state, stretching from Cleveland to Toledo to Columbus. In addition to the field of eight from 2011, Cleveland St. Ignatius and Olentangy Liberty join the party this year.
“The tourney is one of the premier events in high school hockey, pitting the best teams in Cleveland versus the best teams from around the state,” said St. Ignatius Head Coach Patrick O’Rourke in an email. “All of the programs in the tourney are high-quality, so again we are honored to join the field.”
The action begins at Iceland USA on Friday December 21st at 5pm, when Toledo St. John Jesuit battles Ignatius. Five games will be played Friday, ten on Saturday, and five on Sunday culminating with the Championship at 3pm.
PADUA (2-8): Bruins have won this very tournament six times in its sixteen year history. Lost three tough games to out-of-state teams in the Walsh Jesuit Thanksgiving Tournament before finishing 4th at the North Coast League Tournament. Been struggling with lots of youthfulness and growing pains with just one senior on roster and having eight sophomores contributing. Coached by Sean Evans ’97.
KEY PLAYERS: JR Captains Joey Szpak and Greg Kacsmarik, SO Jimmy Szpak. Goalie: SR Austen Peppo
ST. IGNATIUS (7-2-1): First year in tournament, coming off a 39-1 campaign in 2011/2012. Wildcats won the DiPaolo Memorial Tournament at Miami (OH) University over Thanksgiving, earning wins over Toledo St. John’s and Olentangy Liberty. Coming in hot right now, leading the Red North with victories over Shaker Heights and St. Edward. Coached by Patrick O’Rourke, with Nick Biondo filling in while he is on medical leave.
KEY PLAYERS: SR Captains Miles McQuinn (one of the top scorers in school history), Joe Malone and Alex McNulty (stalwart defensemen). Goalies: SRs Bernie Cook and Mike Mulach.
UNIVERSITY (8-5-1): The Preppers have played some of the best competition around this year, finishing 2nd at the Shady Side Academy Thanksgiving Classic and 2nd in the National Invitational Showcase. Won this very tournament in three straight years from 2001-2003, and finished 2nd last season. Coached by Bill Beard.
KEY PLAYERS: SR Tyler Dalton (7 goals, 8 assists), SR Evan Krueger (6 goals, 6 assists), SR Eddie Gable (5 goals, 4 assists). Goalies: JR Andrew Megerian, Alec Silver.
LAKE CATHOLIC (4-5-1): It’s all about defense for the Cougars, as they will rely on a strong defensive front to keep them in ball games. Recorded a huge win over St. Edward (4-3) two weeks ago, and have played six of the teams in this tournament already. Coached by Ryan Okicki.
KEY PLAYERS: JR Declan Conway (13pts), SR Joey Duffy (11pts), SR Troy MacMullan (8pts). Goalies: JR Liam Conway, SO Charlie Conway.
ST. EDWARD (6-6): Two-time defending State runner-up has hit some bumps early on in the season. Went 1-3 in a tournament in Toronto before going 3-1 in another event in New York, with the only loss being a 3-2 overtime decision to University. 2-2 in Red North play thus far, with a mercy-rule win over Strongsville and a victory over Shaker Heights. Coached by Troy Gray.
KEY PLAYERS: SR Connor King, SR Gabe Lampron, JR Tyler Harkins. Goalies: Justyn Gillis, Michael Vetrano.
SYLVANIA NORTHVIEW (5-2): Wildcats won this tournament last year and went on to win the school’s first State Championship. Lost ten seniors to graduation, and going through some growing pains early. Only losses to an out-of-state team and a team they had already beaten, defeated Toledo St. Francis in league play. Coached by Mike Jones.
KEY PLAYERS: SRs Drew Crandall, Zandor Pryor, Xavier Sudlow. Goalies: SO Preston Due, JR David Marsh.
TOLEDO ST. JOHN JESUIT (9-2): Definitely a favorite entering this tournament, the Titans finished runner-ups at the DiPaolo Memorial Tournament at Miami (OH) over Thanksgiving, losing in the final to St. Ignatius. Offense has hardly been a problem, as the team has combined to score 58 goals in eleven games. Have beaten Findlay (twice), Liberty, and Toledo St. Francis. Coached by Mike Hayes.
KEY PLAYERS: JR Austin Kelly (10 goals, 12 assists), SO Ian Rapp (9 goals, 12 assists), SR Colin Suter (7 goals, 12 assists). Goalie: JR Mike Barrett (211 saves).
TOLEDO ST. FRANCIS DESALES (1-7-1): Knights are similar to Padua in that youthfulness has been the story of a young year. Lack of size and not being able to close out a game has caused troubles. Won this tournament in 2010 before going on to win the State Title that very same season. Coached by Chris Varga, in his first year taking over for Brian Kinsella.
KEY PLAYERS: JR Captain Matt Opblinger, JR Geoff Kern, SO Ricky Kwapich. Goalie: FR Kade Phipps.
OLENTANGY LIBERTY (7-2-1): If you’re looking for a surprise team to watch, you found it in the Patriots. Have only been an OHSAA-sanctioned team for six years, but have made their impact known by dominating the Capital Hockey Conference and advancing to the Final Four in 2011. Only losses came to Toledo St. John and St. Ignatius in the tournament at Miami (OH) over Thanksgiving, where they also tied Lake Catholic. Coached by Jack Hoogeveen.
KEY PLAYERS: JR Co-Captain Chris Bergamesca (All-time Points and Assists leader at Liberty, 13 goals and 7 assists this year), SR Co-Captain Ethan Hollingsworth (7 goals, 11 assists), SO Captain Brock Rumbaugh (9 goals, 5 assists). Goalie: FR Cam Perry (.926 save percentage, two shutouts)
FINDLAY (5-5): Trojans have been improving after having a very young team last year. Finished 2nd in Northview’s Thanksgiving Cold Turkey Tournament, with the only loss being to a team from Chicago who had already played 28 games. Lost two tough ones to St. John in league play in which they were in the game until the end. Coached by Joe Longo.
KEY PLAYERS: SR Andy Martin (15 goals, 8 assists), SR Ethan Willis (6 goals, 5 assists), JR Noah Hindall (4 goals, 6 assists). Goalie: SR Alex Wooley (162 saves).
FRIDAY: St. Ignatius vs. Toledo St. John (5pm), St. Edward vs. Olentangy Liberty (6pm), University vs. Toledo St. Francis (7pm), Padua vs. Northview (9pm), Lake Catholic vs. Findlay (9:40pm).
SATURDAY: Liberty vs. St. Ignatius (8:10am), St. Francis vs. St. Edward (10am), Northview vs. University (11:50am), Findlay vs. Padua (1:40pm), St. John vs. Lake Catholic (2:40pm), St. Ignatius vs. St. Francis (3:30pm), St. Edward vs. Northview (5pm), University vs. Findlay (7pm), Padua vs. St. John (8:40pm), Lake Catholic vs. Liberty (9pm).
SUNDAY: 5th Place vs. 5th Place (9am), 4th Place vs. 4th Place (9:20am), 3rd Place vs. 3rd Place (10:50am), 2nd Place vs. 2nd Place (11:10am), Championship Game (3pm).
**NOTE: Teams are divided into two five-team divisions, with local teams in one and out-of-town teams in another. Padua, St. Ignatius, St. Edward, University, and Lake Catholic in one division, St. John, St. Francis, Liberty, Findlay, and Northview in another.
ST. JOHN VS. ST. IGNATIUS (Friday, 5pm, East Rink): What a way to open the tournament: a matchup of two of the hottest teams in the state. Rematch of the DiPaolo Memorial Tournament Championship where the Wildcats emerged victorious, 4-3.
ST. EDWARD VS. LIBERTY (Friday, 6pm, West Rink): Can the Patriots keep flying high and finally beat a team from up north? Can the Eagles move past their early defeats and start the tournament on the right note?
FINDLAY VS. LAKE CATHOLIC (Friday, 9:40pm, West Rink). Matchup of two possible sleeper teams in this tournament. Both are looking for some marquee wins to add to their season resume.
NORTHVIEW VS. UNIVERSITY (Saturday, 11:50am, East Rink): Rematch of last season’s tournament final that the Wildcats took easily, 6-2. Both lost key scorers from last season, Matt Wipper from University and Dalton Carter of Northview, but have had talented forwards filling the void (Tyler Dalton for the Preppers, Drew Crandall for the Wildcats).
ST. EDWARD VS. NORTHVIEW (Saturday, 5pm, West Rink): Rematch of last year’s State Championship game that the Wildcats won, 5-2. Teams also met in this tournament last season, with the Wildcats scoring four straight goals to steal a 4-2 victory.
There’s no need to elaborate further – this tournament will without a doubt be one of the best in the state during the course of the regular season. Many of the teams are using the event are a measuring stick to see their progress thus far in the young season, and to see where they need to go from here to be successful come February and March.
“It’s an absolute showcase of the state,” said Padua Head Coach Sean Evans. “It’s the premier tournament in my opinion. The only teams we’re missing are Walsh Jesuit and Shaker Heights. It’s definitely the elite tournament, I’m excited.”
For live updates from the tournament all weekend, follow @BruinsReporter on Twitter, along with the hashtag #PCHT.