BROOKLYN, Oh - The Cats kicked off the night with their senior night festivities to celebrate the nine seniors on the team: Frankie Basile, Erik Bratton, Ben Nadzam, Zach Zahoranski, Bia Savarino, Johnny Rodgers, Jack Utrup, Christian Nash and Ryan Budzar. Everyone in the Saint Ignatius community extends their gratitude and praise for this group's hard work over the past four years.
The Cats were looking for revenge in this matchup as the Gilmour Academy Lancers spoiled last year's senior night coming away with a 5-2 win against the Cats.
Jumping into the game, both teams had a slight advantage throughout the first period. The game was at a deadlock until a costly Lancer turnover gave Johnny Rodgers, at defense for this game, grabbed the puck at the blue line and made his way around the net to put the Cats up 1-0 with 7:14 left in the first period. "They gave me a lot of room behind the net and I took advantage of it," says Rodgers.
With what is usually a significant momentum boost for the Cats, the early goal led to a reverse of momentum and brought the Lancers alive more than the Cats. The first period ended with the Cats still ahead 1-0, thanks to phenomenal goaltending from Jack Utrup, but with the game swinging in favor of the Lancers.
To begin the second period, the Lancers came out flying and got the equalizer early. Justin Wen took advantage of a Cats mistake in the neutral zone and ripped a goal bar down to tie the game at 1-1 with 11:51 in the second period. Thankfully, multiple penalties did not end up costing the Cats, as Jack Utrup was able to shut down the Lancers while they were a man-up. The Lancers dominated the second and ended up with a lead in the shot category, but the score remained locked at 1-1.
Headed into the third period, no one could have dreamed of a better ending to this one. While the ending was terrific for the Cats, much of the third period favored the Lancers. The Cats struggled to set up their offensive zone forecheck and needed help to get sustained offensive pressure. This kept the Lancers in the game and with 6:12 left in the third period, Luke Radke gave the Lancers the lead going up 2-1.
Very little hope remained in the hearts of the Wildcat faithful, but with 30 seconds left, the Lancers iced the puck and set the Cats up perfectly. This allowed Head Hockey Coach Pat O'Rourke '90 to pull Jack Utrup and give the Cats an extra attacker with 30.7 seconds left to go in the game, still down a goal.
A miracle keep-in at the top of the offensive zone by Zach Zahoranski set Ben Nadzam up perfectly for the tying goal with 16.7 seconds left in the third period.
What seemed to be a great end to regulation was just the beginning of a perfect ending. Off of the center-ice draw Bia Savarino got a quick shot on goal to force an offensive zone faceoff. Right off the draw, Savarino ripped one low glove, and eight seconds after the tying goal, Bia put the Cats ahead 3-2 and sent the Cats home winners on Senior Night.
A wild ending put forth by a team that did not quit. The Ice Cats come away with a massive win against in-state rival Gilmour Academy and continue the push for a State Championship. The Cats head up to Michigan for two tough opponents, Detroit Catholic Central and Brother Rice. The SIBN will not have coverage of these contests, but check @SIHSSPORTS and @SIHSHOCKEY on Twitter for updates.