“Playing at home is something we take pride in. We don’t get to play at Brooklyn often, so when we do, it makes it a little more special to defend our home ice,” Michael Boehm said about this weekend’s big games.
Following a break for Thanksgiving holiday, the Saint Ignatius prep hockey team will be back in action against the Pittsburgh Vengeance this Saturday and Sunday.
“I think it can be good to have a break after an immediate start to the season, because it gave us more time to work on the things we needed to work on," said head coach Pat O’Rourke. "If we played in a Thanksgiving tournament, we probably would not have had time to accomplish what we wanted to improve on."
O’Rourke comes into this Saturday’s contest needing just nine wins to reach a milestone 400th career win as coach of the Blue and Gold.
Greg Langermeier attested to what Coach O’Rourke said
“We were able to use the week off to focus on the things pointed out on film, and we had a tough practice and lift Wednesday which I know helped everyone," Langermeier said.
“The Vengeance are a new opponent that we do not know much about, so we have to focus more on our own play," said Coach O’Rourke. "We need to be much more faster and physical this week, and get more pucks on the net. We have to make quicker decisions. We need to make more hard plays, and if we have to, we will deal with the consequences. If we go down, we want to say we went down playing hard, not soft."
The Wildcats, coming off a two-game split against the Pittsburgh Predators, face another tough Pittsburgh-based team this weekend. The Vengeance come into this contest 6-12-1, but have played a very tough schedule.
The Vengeance have been led by forwards Noah Yerdon and Kellen Almady, who have combined for 31 points in their team’s 13 games with statistics. The Pittsburgh natives started the season off strong, but have fallen in eight of their nine last contests, and most certainly have this weekend’s games circled. One problem plaguing the Vengeance have been penalties. The Vengeance have picked up about 6.5 penalties per game, a mark which will give your penalty kill lots of time on the ice. Despite the recent rough stretch, the Vengeance have proven they can score goals.
“We can obviously improve on our defensive zone,” said do-it-all star Michael Boehm. “Benny (Savarino) bailed us out numerous times on point-blank shots or odd-man rushes. We need to make it more of an emphasis this weekend to tidy up the defensive zone and not give the opponent easy opportunities.”
The Wildcats' special teams was a tale of two cities in the opening weekend. Aidan Millett’s power play goal in the season opener was the only time on nine attempts that the Wildcat power play succeeded. The power play did have plentiful shots and opportunities, and Wildcat fans should expect a much more fruitful power play this weekend.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, the Wildcat penalty kill was immaculate. David Strick led a truly awesome Wildcat penalty kill all weekend long. Charlie Klenkar, Matt Sullivan, and Clay Gazdak also made huge plays on the PK. Giving all the credit to just these four men would be insufficient, as with these four men’s stout effort, the whole team contributed to the penalty kill. Nearly every Wildcat skater contributed to the 10/10 penalty kill, and the sight brought a smile to Coach O’Rourke. The penalty kill stopped 86% of opposing power plays last season, and this weekend the Wildcats will try to continue to best that mark.
“We did an outstanding job keeping the puck on the perimeter, and we did not give up many point blank chances,” said star goalie Benny Savarino, who was in the thick of it all.
“I thought we did a good job offensively, but we need to work on being more physical and capitalize on the power play,” said elite junior forward Alex Bilardo.
Bilardo is also excited to be back at home.
“The atmosphere is always so energizing and fun at home. We don’t have many home games, so when we are home we expect lots of people.”
Once again, Langermeier hit another statement home, stressing student attendance this weekend.
“We are all looking forward to getting to play in front of people who are excited to see what we have got to offer. We feel most comfortable playing at Brooklyn, and being in our own locker room has a nice feeling,” said Langermeier.
You heard it from Michael, Greg, and Alex. These are very big games. These guys work their tails off for their fans and school, and they need your support this weekend. The puck will drop this Saturday at 4:45 p.m. and Sunday at 11 a.m. Make it loud at Brooklyn.
If at all costs you cannot make it to the rink, the SIBN will cover the action. Pat Keane and Max Marazzi will join me for the coverage, as we will broadcast not just this game but every second of Wildcat hockey action.