skip navigation

The Ice Cats Take Second at the Shady Side Showcase

By Sean Gerba '25, 12/04/23, 1:15PM EST


In their first road trip of the season, the Wildcats go 3-1 and take second at the Shady Side Showcase.

PITTSBURGH, Pa - With some formidable opponents ahead, the Wildcats took the opening year road trip to Shady Side Academy in Pittsburgh, PA, hosting this tournament and came into it with a great chance of winning. With their eyes set on playing the Bulldogs in the championship game, the Wildcats had some work to do in the preliminary rounds. 

The Ice Cats' first challenge of the weekend was Crystal Beach Academy from Ontario, Canada. With the Ice Cats going down early in the first, only 2:36 into the game, they went down with an unlucky goal from Crystal Beach, just barely rolling over the pad of Goaltender Dominic Filizetti.
The Cats did not take too well to going down early in this game and Head Hockey Coach Pat O'Rourke '90 fired the boys up because the Ice Cats scored three unanswered goals to go up 3-1 after the first period. 

Braden Esenwine had the first goal for the Ice Cats with a baseball bat swing after a save from the goaltender of Crystal Beach. Tristan Rutledge had the second goal for the Ice Cats after a great move by Brandon Getz to set up a cross-crease pass for the goal. Another team play that led up to the third goal was capped off by a fantastic tip by Christian Sidoti with help from a slapshot from Nolan Ignacio. Cats just needed a few minutes to brush off the fatigue from the hilly drive up the mountains of Pennsylvania onto the campus of Shady Side to kick into gear. 

Now more confident than ever, the Cats were prized to enter the first intermission with a two-goal lead. The scoring was paused until the third period, where they picked the action with an outstanding performance from Dom Filizetti in the net. The Ice Cats, trying to withstand the most dangerous lead in all sports, couldn't hold off the pressure from the resilient Crystal Beach, letting in a goal with 11:11 left on the clock and having to lock down the defensive zone and not take any penalties. 

This was enough for the Ice Cats to take home the win. The Ice Cats gritted this win out for the last few minutes and as Coach O'Rourke said after each game, "It wasn't pretty, but we gutted it out and got the win." Either way, the Ice Cats had one the first game of the tournament, 3-2 but had to get a good sleep as they had a great opponent of Hoosac School (NY) up next. 

Hoosac was also a fierce opponent the Ice Cats had to overcome if they wanted to achieve their goal of making it to the Championship. The Ice Cats were trying to change their pace to start the game. This game started the scoring early, scoring on a 3-0 run with goals from Zach Bleick, Gino Piazza and Neal Bartone. Bleick was all over the ice this weekend with plenty of scoring opportunities and fancy dekes. For the first game, Bleick was put in front of the net to screen the goaltender on the power play, which continued into this game. 

He said, "He was just in the right spot at the right time for the rebound." The Hoosac goaltender was out of position and Bleick could put the puck in the back of the net. With 6:28 left in the first period, this goal would not be the first in this high-scoring affair. Piazza was next up on the score sheet. After some excellent defense at the point from Mustafa and Yarosh, the puck was tipped out into the neutral zone for a racing Piazza. 

Piazza would use a nasty deke to fake out the goaltender and slot this one away. Looking like a true professional scoring and taking care of business. Bartone's classic slapshot was enough to beat the Hoosac defenders and goaltender hitting that bottom right corner. 

The Ice Cats would go into the first intermission with a big lead. Hoosac was not backing down and would get one back with a goal only a minute and nine seconds into the second period. Hoosac would add one more to the tally only a minute and five seconds later. The Cats now had a fantastic game on hand at Shady Side Arena. 

Jack Geffert, a senior assistant captain for the Ice Cats, would put his name in the score sheets with a cheeky wack at the puck that would hop up and over the pad of the Hoosac goaltender. The Cats had notched another power play and put the Cats up two again, stopping the Hoosac scoring streak at two. Another Hoosac goal would make this a one-goal game, with time winding down in the second period. The Cats would hold onto this lead going into the locker room and get hyped again for another period of exciting hockey. Bleick took this to heart and decided he would get a brace and score another goal two minutes and fifteen seconds into the final period of play. 

Another rebound shot from Bleick doubled his Prep scoring to two. Bartone, following in the footsteps of the freshman, also notched his second goal of the game with the game dagger and he knew it. After the gritty play, blocking the shot with his shin pads, he was off to the races and knew precisely what he would do. One move and the puck was in the back of the net. Followed by the goal was the celly of the tournament by Bartone with the archer, looking like Hawkeye on skates. Hoosac would score one more, but it was not enough to put down the mighty confident Cats. 

The Ice Cats were 2-0 in the tournament but had their most challenging test ahead with another game that night at 8 p.m. for a chance to play in the Championship with an excellent Shady Side squad after a comeback win the game before. Blyth Academy (ONT) was that test.

Blyth Academy also had played the morning earlier, so both teams had tired legs. Blyth Academy took advantage of the tired legs as they scored first. The Cats would respond later in the first period with a great goal from Zack Baker. Bleick would add to his tally for the weekend, scoring just after Baker. Blythe Academy would not take the Cats' lead lightly and would add one back right after the Bleick Goal. 

Starting the second period with a banger, Justin Frederick would light the lamp and put the Cats on top again. He was followed by Baker for his second goal of the night, giving the Cats a two-goal lead. Blyth needed to respond before the end of the period, putting one in the back of the net and cutting the lead to one. Blyth Academy would not go away as they notched another goal, making this game even with minutes left in the second period. With Domininc Filizetti standing on his head in the net, the game would stay tied for most of the third period, with Esenwine breaking the tie with a fantastic breakaway goal that went right over the goaltender and hit the top right corner. 

With 1:30 left, the Cats took the lead for the third time this game. Esenwine would add another to his tally with an open net goal, putting the Cats in the Championship against Shady Side Academy (PA) the following day. 
With all the hype going into this game and lots of heavy legs, the Ice Cats were ready for this game. Shady Side was more prepared to take on the Cats with home-ice advantage; they would sprint out of the gates, scoring a goal very early into the first period. Shady Side would not look back, scoring two more in the first period and going into the first intermission up 3-0.

Cats would get one back, but it would not be enough as Shady Side scored two more, winning this Championship at home 5-1. The Cats went home tired but had a great few games this weekend, proving they could win any game they wanted. Hoping to carry this newfound confidence into the following weekend, the Cats had some big in-state rivals, with Gilmour and Sylvania Northview next on the schedule, where they would win 6-0 and 6-1.

The Cats return to Shady Side the following weekend for a pair of games against Shady Side Academy.