BROOKLYN, OH - With confidence at an all-time high and the Ice Cats on a six-game winning streak going back to their big rivalry win against the St. Edward Eagles and co-regular season GOHL Champions, the Ice Cats were trying to be the inaugural winners of the GOHL League.
With bad weather and brutal revenge games ahead, the Cats were ready to go for the playoffs. With inclement weather canceling the first round against the GOHL Tournament, the Wildcats were set to play the St. Edward Eagles and Upper Arlington game-winner as they advanced past Gilmour Academy.
At noon, the Cats found their opponent for their semifinal game that would be played at 8 p.m. With Upper Arlington winning the morning game, the Ice Cats had another game against the Golden Bears on back-to-back weekends. Both teams were ready to play some hockey and looked sharp in some new sweaters. Unlike the previous weekend's game, the Ice Cats started the scoring early. With Neal Bartone and Dario Piazza scoring early into the first period, the Ice Cats were flying out of the gates.
With the dirty dangles, Bartone flung the puck into the bottom right corner of the net, and Piazza got the scrappy goal to add to the lead in the GOHL Semifinals. Frederick would add to the score sheet in the first period. Some fancy celebrations to ring in their goals would keep the energy high for the rest of the game.
That was all for the first period, and if the Cats wanted a rematch against the Preppers later in the weekend, they needed to add some scoring insurance and maybe a few more celebrations. The Ice Cats would do just that by scoring another goal early into the second period. Again, it would be Captain Dario Piazza who would start the scoring for the Cats.
Not long after in the period, after a cross-crease pass from Geffert to Bartone and the selfie stick celebration to go along with the goal, the Cats were up big midway through the second frame in the semifinal of the GOHL Playoffs. That would be all for the rest of the second period and the rest of the game. With a few penalties and Otto Bafus getting ejected for a missed call, the Cats would be down a man going into the championship game against the University School Preppers after the 5-0 win and a Dom "The Dominator Filizetti" shutout.
With the winning streak extended to seven wins and a full night of sleep, the Cats were onto the inaugural GOHL Championship. The Cats came out in their same gold jerseys as the night before and the Preppers are in a dark maroon. With the Championship off to the races, both teams were caught off guard and in defense to start the game.
This would stay the same as neither team wanted to give the other an edge. The Championship was a period down with no penalties, no goals, and nothing could separate the two teams. Most would stay the same from the first to the second, with only a few penalties. Penalties to both sides for boarding and tripping, but neither team could strike on the man's advantage. The score would stay unchanged going into the final period of the GOHL Championship game.
After a lengthy second intermission, both teams were ready to jump on the ice and fight til the end until we found a winner. Cole Trainor put his name in the scoresheet and the history books. The top-blocker side snipe to put the Cats in the lead was detrimental for the Preppers and the Cats had all the momentum.
This would stay the same for the rest of the game, as the Cats could kill a few penalties to end the game. Only with a few bites of excitement at the end of the game as the Preppers pulled their goaltender and were back to full strength with a man in the box. A few long-shot attempts that went wide would set the Preppers up for a faceoff in their offensive zone to tie the game with the Cats. Both teams stacked the box right in front of Dom Filizetti. With Dom making the save to end the game, the Cats cleared the puck down the ice and were GOHL Champions.
The Ice Cats have four regular season games remaining and the tournament draw will come on February 7. They are coming off losses to Michigan powerhouses Catholic Central and Brother Rice.
At 20-5-1, the Wildcats will hit the road one final time in the 2023-24 season for the MIHL Showcase in Michigan, where they will take on Warren De La Salle and Orchard Lake St. Mary. The SIBN will have live coverage from Kennedy Ice Arena.