Head Coach Pat O’Rourke’s three-time defending state championship team has an emphasis on one thing this season – family. The Ice Cats family begins another title defense this week against a game-tested, tough Pittsburgh Predators team.
The Wildcats won their only pre-season match by the score of 5-0 versus Cleveland Wildcats “Blue” team. Benny Savarino and Zak Kovatch combined to shut out the opposing Wildcats. Senior Eric Lile scored twice, while seniors Pat Eppich and Charlie Klenkar also tallied points to the board. Junior Danny Cook scored the other Wildcat goal.
The Pittsburgh Predators are a formidable matchup to start the season. The Cats travel to Pittsburgh to face the team they split two games with last season. The Predators have been on a hot streak recently, going 7-1-3 in their last eleven games. The Predators have outscored opponents 92-72 so far this season and hold an 11-7-3 record.
The Predators have big wins over Livonia Stevenson and the Buffalo Regals, and also tied a great Honeybaked team. Close losses to top local Pittsburgh opponents make up the few blemishes on their record.
The general consensus surrounding the team is excitement for the opening contest.
“It is our first road trip of the year," stalwart junior defenseman Charlie Erbs said. "I think I speak for everyone when I say we are just excited to go out and play.”
The team knows they face a tough test this weekend.
“It is a great privilege to play for this program and face such a tough schedule against teams such as the Predators," Savarino said. "It is exciting to have a shot at history and I think it makes my senior season that much more special. Knowing that I have a chance to compete for a state title every year is a blessing."
One Wildcat to watch for is star defenseman Greg Langermeier. Langermeier scored the title-clinching overtime goal in the state title game and is bound for another great year.
On being named assistant captain and rebounding off a spectacular junior campaign, Greg said, “What is really motivating me is being remembered as a great leader and teacher to my teammates. Representing our team as an assistant captain is something I take to heart. I am going to try to fill the role the best I can. I would much rather be known as the guy who pushed his teammates to get better than the guy who had one special goal in his career. I am more excited than ever to be starting the season of a sport. Something is in the water about this team and the bond that we have that forms a potential to do great things. Hype obviously surrounds any team that has a chance to four-peat, since so much hard work is needed to achieve our goal.”
The Wildcats have great goaltending mixed with a sound defense and lethal offensive attack. The Cats return most of their top scorers and get back seven defensemen.
This weekend’s games will be broadcast live on the SIBN, courtesy of Jack O’Rourke, Max Marazzi, and Pat Keane.
Game time is 2:10 p.m. on Saturday and 10:00 a.m. on Sunday.
Live SIBN link: www.ignatiuswildcats.com/SIBN-live