BROOKLYN, Oh - Wildcats advance to Frozen Four for the 12th time and seek their eighth state championship in program history. The Ice Cats are headed back to Columbus for the first time since the 2020 season after a 3-1 victory over the Padua Franciscan Bruins.
The Wildcats got off to a hot start with a goal coming a little over a minute into the game, thanks to junior forward Jack Geffert. Geffert snuck one home over the shoulder of Aidan Knox to give the Cats an early lead and a lot of momentum. The Cats were met with the equalizer a short while after.
Shane Helman took advantage of a Cats turnover at the hash marks of the defensive zone and ripped one past a sprawled-out Nolan Francis. This would be the only goal allowed by Francis, as he played a phenomenal game in the net for the Cats. One of the backbones for this Cats team, Nolan, continues to play great, game after game.
The first period ended in a 1-1 tie, with the physicality ramping up near the end of the first period.
The Cats were rolling early in the second period thanks to a Zack Baker snipe in the top left corner barely thirty seconds into the period. Baker has been on fire as of late and will look to continue to be a dynamic offensive option for the Cats headed into Saturday.
Later on, in the second period, Cal Basile found himself wide open off of a great pass from Johnny Rodgers in the slot. Basile fired off a shot that trickled out of the glove of Knox and rolled over the goal line. The freshman was mobbed by his teammates as he jumped into the Wildcat faithful along the boards.
Basile has played above his age since his great weekend at the Hoosier Cup in Notre Dame. This would be the last of the scoring as the Cats’ defense locked down the game for the rest of the second and third periods.
Francis nearly had a goalie goal at the end of the contest but missed by about three feet, to our knowledge, that would have been the first goalie goal in Saint Ignatius Hockey history.
The clock read double zeros and the Cats were Regional Champions, the first time since the 2020 season when the playoffs would be canceled shortly after due to the pandemic.
The Wildcats will travel to Columbus to take on the 36-1-1 Olentangy Liberty Patriots in the OHSAA State Semifinal at Nationwide Arena. The Wildcats met the Patriots in the preseason for a scrimmage, where the Cats won 4-1. Due to OHSAA regulations, this game will be audio-only on the SIBN and the puck drop will be at noon. The winner will go on to play the winner of University School and Sylvania Northview for the State Championship on Sunday, March 12, at noon.