BROOKLYN, Oh - A season ago, the Saint Ignatius Wildcats and St. Edward Eagles met on the ice twice as the Eagles would outscore the Ice Cats 15-2 in two combined meetings. The Eagles would be the State Champion runner-up in Division I in that same season. This year features a revitalized Saint Ignatius Hockey team and the Cats came into the first meeting of the season with a chip on their shoulder as the puck dropped at John M. Coyne Rec Center in Brooklyn on Saturday evening.
For the first time since the 2019-20 season, the Ice Cats played in front of a capacity crowd packed with Wildcat and Eagle faithful. As the puck dropped, the Cats were ready to make a statement in the opening period. The Wildcats would own possession of the puck in the opening minutes, but the Eagles would deny the Cats early.
As the Cats gained control of the puck, sophomore Neal Bartone made an excellent move along the boards to separate the Eagles defender. Bartone would move the puck across the ice to fellow sophomore Brandon Getz. Getz knocked in the contest’s opening goal in the upper left corner as Bartone assisted in giving him a wide-open shot on net. With 15:05 remaining in the first period, the Wildcat student section went into a frenzy and the Cats were off and running.
“We had a nice two on one advantage heading up the ice,” Getz explains. “There was a wide-open net and we got the boys going early.”
The defense for the Wildcats would continue to play smart as time went on in the first period; as the Eagles gained an advantage of the puck and moved to the Wildcat side of the ice, Christian Sidoti made an excellent poke check to break up the Eagles break.
With seven minutes remaining in the first period, the Wildcats would surrender their first and only goal of the contest. As the Eagles were working the puck around the Saint Ignatius goal, St. Edward’s Zak Bell would take a shot on net that goalie Nolan Francis would save. However, the puck would ricochet off the right shoulder of Francis and right back to Bell, who would zip in the game-tying goal.
The first period would end and set a defensive statement between both teams. Bone-crushing hits between the Wildcats and Eagles showed the passion of the rivalry on the ice as the fans enjoyed an excellent first period of hockey from Brooklyn.
As the first intermission was reached, Saint Ignatius Athletic Department honored stand-out football and hockey alumnus Aidan Conway ’21 with the Award for the Wirtz Athlete of the Year. The athletic department coaches present a list of nominees to the student body who vote for the winner of this award each year to a multi-sport student-athlete at Saint Ignatius. Conway was presented the award in front of fellow students and his family.
The second period began the same way the first period ended as each defense would tighten up. The Wildcats would have multiple opportunities to take the lead in the second period but could not get a shot past the Eagles goalie. The Eagles had their chances, but Francis was a brick wall in front of the net and would not allow St. Edward to take the lead.
Anxious moments awaited as Saint Ignatius and St. Edward headed back onto the ice for the third period. In the third period, the Wildcats would go into an early disadvantage as Anthony Amoroso would head into the penalty box. The Wildcats penalty kill team would take the ice to kill the two-minute penalty. The score remained tied as the Cats penalty kill team would get the job done.
As Amoroso worked the puck into the Eagles’ side of the ice, he would have the puck poke checked away from him. The puck would end up on the stick of Biagio Savarino, who would score to give the Wildcats a 2-1 lead with 10:46 remaining in the third period.
“We got a good puck drop from Amoroso as he was able to tap it out,” says Savarino. “I dropped down and got it, went high glove and it went in.”
The Wildcats were not finished; nearly seconds after Savarino’s goal, Kal Zarembski got a goal to go with 10:31 remaining in the match as Frankie Basile was credited the assist. With a 3-1 lead on the Eagles, it came down to the Wildcat defense to continue to step up.
The Cats would finish off the remaining 10 minutes with stellar defense. As the buzzer rang in the John M. Coyne Rec Center, the Cats swarmed around goalie Francis to celebrate a 3-1 victory over the St. Edward Eagles as this was a redemption game after a challenging year a season ago.
“After last year, it was embarrassing; we put in the work in the off-season,” Getz says. “That hard work paid off today as we got the win.”
“We built off of those losses a year ago,” explains Savarino. “We have a group this year we’re comfortable with and we’re getting it done.”
The Ice Cats improve to 8-2-1 on the season and earn a much-needed week of rest as they prepare for a trip to Pittsburgh this upcoming weekend. Saint Ignatius will take on Shady Side Academy on Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 10 a.m. This is the first meeting with Shady Side Academy since the 2018-19 season, where the Wildcats dropped both contests. Both games this weekend will be live-streamed on the SIBN.