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Battle-Tested Cats Head to Shady Side Academy for Two-Game Set

By Jack O'Rourke '20, 12/14/18, 9:45AM EST


Red-hot special teams lead Cats into Shady Side Academy.

The Saint Ignatius prep hockey team rides a four-game winning streak into this weekend’s contests against Shady Side Academy.

The Indians have won three straight contests against familiar opponents of the Wildcats, and are currently ranked No. 7 of the USA Boys’ Independent Prep teams.

“Shady Side Academy is one of those weekends you circle on the calendar at the beginning of the season,” said Head Coach Pat O’Rourke ‘90. “These games will really tell us where we stack up with the best teams in the country, and I hope we have a good showing.”

Last weekend, the Wildcats’ penalty kill continued to shine. Killing off nine penalties versus Hartland and Brighton, the Cats improved to 27-for-27 on the penalty kill on the season.

Junior Michael Boehm netted the Wildcats’ first shorthanded goal of the year. Senior David Strick also had a great weekend on the Wildcats’ penalty kill, blocking seemingly every shot on net.

The Cats’ penalty kill success can also be attributed to the play of goalie Benny Savarino. Savarino holds a 2.20 GAA on the season, as well as a .925 SV %. The aggressive Saint Ignatius penalty kill has worked wonders for the Wildcats this season, forcing turnovers and loose pucks on the boards.

Another success of the Wildcats’ Michigan trip was the power play. Converting three times, the Cats’ PP produced when needed most against Brighton. Greg Langermeier’s first-period power play strike was integral in starting Saturday’s comeback win.

A third-period rebound goal by Joey Trobenter tied up the game with minutes remaining in the third period. Friday night, Alex Bilardo also punched the Wildcats’ ticket past Hartland with his power play goal from Camden Kurtz.

Power play member Michael Boehm has been proud of the team’s man-advantage efforts.

“Recently, we have been getting tons of opportunities on the power play,” Boehm said. “Hopefully we keep on improving, and capitalize on our opportunities.”

“Our power play got off to a rough start the first weekend,” said O’Rourke. “Since then it's been humming, mostly due to Coach Schoenholz's work with them and their commitment to quick and accurate puck movement.  A lot of times when you score a PPG, the pass actually ‘beats’ the goalie more than the final shot does, and the guys have recognized that and embraced it.”

One of the best things to be found on and off the ice is a “never say die” attitude. Last weekend, despite trailing three goals, the Wildcats dug their feet in the ground and pulled out a gritty 4-3 overtime win over Brighton.

Similar to multi-goal comebacks to tie or win games in recent years against opponents such as Orchard Lake St. Mary’s, University School, and Loyola Academy, the Wildcats showed they can hang with any team and will fight until the very last second.

Not only do the Wildcats fight to the last second, they thrive in the closing minutes. Whether it is stamina, luck, or plain skill, the Blue and Gold have dominated opponents in the third period. Having outscored opponents 9-2 in the closing period, the Cats have ended multiple games by simply out-playing and wearing down opponents.

Similar to a boxer, the Cats take smaller, quick-hitting jabs at opponents in the first two periods, before settling in during the third and putting teams on the ropes for the knockout punch. The Wildcats have done an outstanding job of not looking back after taking leads, and pushing back when down.

The Indians of Shady Side Academy are known to be a talented top-to-bottom hockey squad.

The Indians are 9-1-1 this season against teams the Wildcats have played this year, last year, or will play this year.

Shady Side beat and tied St. Michael’s College Prep (ONT), whom the Cats take on at home on January 26th, beat A-21 Academy (ONT), who the Wildcats will play four times this season, and beat the Pittsburgh Vengeance twice last weekend.

Eric Evenson leads the Indians’ scoring attack, which has scored over four goals per game this season. Defenseman Sawyer Smith has also put up points from the blue line. Forward Tucker Lamb also has produced so far for SSA.

The Indians also have three capable goalies who will all be up to the task if called upon. The goalies have combined for a 2.89 GAA this season.

The SIBN will have all the coverage of both of this weekend’s contests, and we do not anticipate any problems with the cellular coverage.

Pat Keane ‘20 and Max Marazzi ‘20 will join me on the call for the two-game set.

The puck drops from the Roy McKnight Ice Center on Shady Side Academy’s beautiful campus at 7 p.m. Friday night, and Saturday’s start time has been moved up to 10 a.m.