Sunday, February 28, 2010

Falcons beat Spartans

The BGSU Falcons bounced back in a home and home series against the Spartans last night. Up at State the Falcons lost 5-2 and just were not able to maintain the offensive pressure needed. Saturday night at home the Falcons went down a goal in the first period. The Falcons then came back to tie the game in the second on a power play goal. The third found the Falcons again with a power play goal to take the lead early, only to have the Spartans tie up the game late with an even strength goal.
The teams played the over time even and with out a score. This plays well to BGSU as they are over 80% time victorious since the adapting the shoot out. This night was no exception, and with style fan favorite Tomas Petruska, the final shooter, a senior on the home ice in front of his home fans for the last time did not leave empty handed. He scored and won the shoot out for the Falcons.
Falcon goalie Andrew Hammond was part of the victory making 34 stops on 36 shots, and stopping all shoot out shooters.
The Falcons are on the road for the CCHA playoffs, heading to Nebraska on 3-5-2010 and 3-6-2010.

A look at the other districts

Over in the Brooklyn District the semi-finals have come down to Cleveland St. Ignatius hosting Brecksville-Broadview Hgts. Look to see Ignatius advance to the Brooklyn finals and play Padua, after Padua beats St. Ed's, we are looking at Padua Vs. Ignatius final. As far as who will win this district, the smart money would be on Ignatius in some circles. I like Padua.
Down south in the Columbus district we have semi-final match ups of Cincinnati Sycamore and Dublin Coffman and Cincinnati Moller and Centerville. Look to see a final between Coffman and Centerville, with Coffman advancing to the state semi-final.
Back in the eastern part of Ohio in the Kent district the semi-finals have Lake Catholic squaring off against University School and a Walsh Vs. Gilmour battle.
I can see University school beating Lake Catholic and Walsh mounting a win over Gilmour. Having Walsh ride the wave to win the Kent District.

Knights to host Trojans

No, I am refraining from further comment on the calls of last evenings St. Johns Sylvania match up. Clearly there is no need for me to lay waste on the individual(s) responsible when that topic is the most predominate in nearly any conversation about last evenings game. How sad is that, that everyone sees it, yet nothing is done?
Ok lets on track here. We have another district semi-final game tomorrow night. A game that was postponed due to the weather. Lets get in to this match up.
Coming in the game the Findlay Trojans are 20-10-1 and Ranked 10th in the state, and 4th in the red division with a 4-5-0 record. This season the Trojans out of the top 5 red division team have allowed the most goals this season at 38. The Trojans have however scored the second highest number of goals in league play at 39. The Trojans have been right their in every game they played, and what best sums it up is they either win by a few or loose by one. They can skate, and score with any team in the state. That 10th ranking is not some partisan poll, its the numbers, in black and white based on wins and losses and goals. With even an average for the Trojans offensive showing and just a slight up tick in the defense Findlay wins this game.
A look at the Knights. In a word wow. This is in my eye a very near to complete team, the most competitive team, and Ill say it likely to be remembered as one of the best team to ever play in N.W Ohio. Ever. Better even than those teams from the time of Bobcat domination. Pounding the Cleveland are giants of recent to earn an uncontested number one in the state ranking with a dominating 31-3-2 record, a number one Red division record of 9-1 that loss being a shoot out OT loss to Sylvania Northview. The Knights have the lowest goal against in the Red division at 16 and most goals for at 42. The Knights have dominated this year, out performing even the lofty expectations of some fans. They control the tempo of nearly every game they have played. Hold the offensive zone with strength and finesse and just cause other teams to break down. On the power play, and I dont have the stats on this but they scored on nearly every one I saw this year.
The break down and prediction.
The two meetings between these two team were a 5-4 win for the Knights in a closely contested match early in the season, when no one could really even handle this Knights team at all, it was impressive. The last meeting was again a Knights win, a shut out win to boot, 3-0. Findlay had chances but goalie Jeff Davis shut them down.
I believe we are going to see a closely contested match up much like the first meeting between these two teams. Offensively for a Findlay victory we need to see Findlay get the puck deep, hold the zone far better than the last meeting, shooting often, even low percentage long shots. No offense to goalie Davis, but he gives up lots of rebounds and has poor rebound control allowing those rebound to land in prim goal scoring locations, and the Trojans are great at crashing in to score on those rebounds. Jeff is no Nate Gray, no one in the league smothers a puck like I have seen that youngman. Findlay can not allow themselves to get discouraged with any one goal that may go in, its going to happen, they can not shut out this team. Additionally the Trojans player need get bodies in front of the shots that are headed for their net.For the Knights again its shooting, shooting, shooting and more shooting. The knights have 5 of the top goal scorers in the league and picking apart (no offense) the second highest scored upon goalie in the league should be easy work. But in the same breath this St. Francis team, the best ever in the district, seemingly has not improved at all this season, which is odd, the gap has closed, the chinks in the once believed impenetrable Armour are exposed. I believe this a near even match, and thats what we expect in a semi-final game.
I say this likely will be, just as with the St. Johns and Sylvania match up, its going to be a nail bitter, where the fans better be prepared to see a 3 goal lead fall to a tie game and then a two goal lead fall again to a tie. My prediction, a 6-5 Findlay Trojan victory. Anything can and does happen in these district finals, its why we play the games, poll free.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Wildcats pounce the Titans 4-3

Boy oh boy. It ended up a nail bitter for one reason and one reason only, down right poor officials. I will not say much now, but will instead post video evidence, and sleep on my exact wording, and ideas.
Great victory for the Cats, a good battle waged by the Titans and, a sad day for the N.W Ohio Hockey association where one - two officials can bring down a conference. Maybe it is just time to form a new N.W Ohio Hockey association, and gain distance from this one.

Apology to Zach Felser

In watching the video of the game, and reading the score sheet for the game against Bowling Green, it is clear that I had a case of mistaken identity between line mates Dalton Carter and Zach Felser. I am working to make changes to that video and replacing Daltons photo with that of Zach.

Wildcats Vs. Titans in semi-final action 7pm tonight

Breaking down the match up of tonight's N.W Ohio district semi-final.
Coming in to this 7pm match up the St. John's Titans are your home team and are ranked 3rd in the division and 9th in the Ohio with a record of 19-13-3, and are coming off a play off a lack luster win over Maumee.
The Wildcats come in to tonight's game as the away team and ranked 2nd in the division and 5th in the state with a record of 19-8-4, and are coming a dominating win over a Red Division rival BG. The Wildcats have the toughest overall path to the final four of any N.W. Ohio team. The Wildcats should they make the final four will have played each Red Division heavy in the single elimination playoffs. For some teams that kind of challenge is too much, for others it forces them to peak and play their best. Based on the game I witnessed against the Bobcats, this well coached Jones team is peaking. Must be hard for the staff to choose a net-minder with both playing at the levels they are right now. The defense is holding the offensive zone, and being stingy and strong in the defensive zone. The offense is clicking unlike anything we have seen all season, strong fore-checking, passing and shooting like we have all hoped. Stars have emerged, but not as individuals as one might think, but as units as a team. All the blocks look to be in place for what will likely be an impressive run.
In their two meetings this season the Titans have given up 9 goals and scored on the Wildcats 4 times (2 per game). The Cats won both games, in this rivalry. When it came to determining the playoff brackets records alone do not determine seeding process, as one would think (getting what you earn, seems to hold little weight with the N.W. Ohio Hockey association). Those lovely polls come in to play, and not "impartial" polls, if there is such a thing. The coaches vote. So even though the Wildcats finished in a solid second place, beating St. Johns twice, having been ranked on their whole season on (the leader in ranking hockey clubs around the world) higher, and finishing 4 places higher than the Titans, and being the only Red division team to hand the power house St. Francis Knights one of only 3 losses. The Wildcats land as our 3rd seed? It matters not in the end as 3rd seed is left with the Choice of sides in the playoffs. Me, personally, I pick the stronger opponent, I make a statement "here we are coming after you", I would have picked the Knights, but I am not driving that ship. So being consistent I again point a long boney finger at the N.W Ohio Hockey Association and say "fix your house, not for the fans, but the boy and girls who play the game and give 100%, and deserve no less from their association."
Tonight I would like to say I see the Wildcats take this game in 3, with a final score of 4-1, or a stretching 6-2. This is what I would like to say. But this is high school hockey, where anything can and does happen. Add in the taste of the deep rooted rivalry that lives between these two teams, I say were in for a nail bitter. One that goes the distance 4-3 as the final.

Wildcats upend the Bobcats 5-2 in quarter final play

A tight game was expected after these two squads regular season games. The first going handily to the Bobcats in a shutout win, on the Wildcats home ice. The second game played on Bobcat home ice tilted to the Wildcats. The quarter final game was a very different story. The Wildcats came out and just took command of this contest. They played a very good defensive game, as they have all year, and in years past in the defensive zone. What was pleasing to witness with the defense seems to be that they have gelled. They have gelled to the point where they are aggressively and confidently holding the puck in the offensive zone. Its just a simple fact that sustained offense gets pucks in the net. In instances this year (especially evident in losses) the Wildcat defenders could be seen at near center ice when the opposition fought for the puck down in the corners and up on the half boards. The defensive pairings, skills, communication and confidence were all visible, as they should be for a top 5 ranked team. Offensively things have clearly landed into very productive lines. In this contest the goals were well distributed among the lines. The Wildcat checking line really played a key roll in the team success, just cleanly pounding the Bobcats while giving the other lines some additional air, and generating some of their own quality chances in the offensive zone. It is good to see the team makeing hits on the opposition that leave no room for question as to weather they are clean or infractions, hands, elbows and sticks all down and the puck right there.
Looking at the Bowling Green Bobcats we again see a very well coached team, that plays a very disciplined game. These Bobcats are a young team who are developing their offensive weapons this season. Where as their defense is stronger and they enjoy the benefits of an outstanding starting goal tender. Lets talk about Nate Gay who earned first team red division honors, for his outstanding play. Nate is an exceptional positional goalie who plays well out on the top of his crease, with a confidence not seen many young starters. Couple this with his size, ability to smother the puck and when he must give up rebounds he does so directing them to the safety zones, all make him a force of one to be reckoned with, and making the opposition earn every goal. Screening this sizable young man is no easy task as he is one of the tallest players on the ice. When screened if he is unable to track the puck low, he extends using his size to see over the interwoven players before him. It is going to be a pleasure watching this young man develop, who I swear had Vaughn build his Velocity pads out of Tempurpedic foam and Velcro. Again once BG has developed their offense in front of this net-minder, look out.
While concerned about Bowling Green hockey has been a topic of many conversations, that range from the hurting university program to dwindling youth hockey numbers. Some clarity about the future is certain. The BGSU hockey team is not folding. The BGSU ice arena is getting the much needed massive renovations to make her better than new. The University program while they struggled this season, have a young team, and exceptional talent that kept them in every game this season. They were very well coached and I hope to see Coach Williams and his staff retained, for their work this year and for the outstanding recruits they are bringing to the program. The youth program should rebound and follow suit with successful Falcon and the Bobcats. The success of the B.G.H.S Bobcats should remain consistent in the process. News of other H.S teams apparently moving their home ice to BGSU arena is starting to come out, but nothing official has yet been announced, and when that is made public and official I will comment.
Questions that have arisen from having watched years of Ohio Hockey. One, why are we not using the safe goal pegs designed for this level of play? Why are we reduced to two officials for the playoffs when a 2 officials 1 linesman system is used for league play? Where are the goal judges? Between last-years St. Johns - Northview goal(S) and clock messes, one would assume it would have been fixed by now. Why is the State still insistent upon giving each individual district Champion a guaranteed spot in the final 4, when they should be assuring the best four teams in the state are playing for the state championship. One easy fix to that is still inclusive to developing districts is to give a district conference Champion home ice, then send via random draw the number 2,3 and 4 teams each to separate districts to establish 4, 4 team pools each composed of one team from each district. The winners of these tournaments would then advance to the States final 4 and the Champion then would advance to the High School Nationals. A system such as this provides a fair and equal chance to all districts, yet guarantees the best four teams in the state contest for the State Champion honors. Too that end why do not yet have established two levels of varsity hockey each with their own championship since it is clear there are two levels in the state. Such a division would be wonderful and allow each conference to play each team or nearly each team from around the state in their stated level, what ever those level be so named, prior to playing their conference schedules. All of these ideas and more will be forthcoming over then next several weeks as our season draws to an end.
The Wildcats knocked the Bobcats out of the playoffs with a final score of 5-2, and have advanced to play the St. Johns Titans in tonight's semi-final match up, which should be hotly contested.
Watch the Wildcats game video by following the link bellow. Its a large file and on slower connections some load time is needed. Enjoy.