By Larry Moko
It was a mistake that Alessio Veysey more than made up for.
After letting in an admittedly soft goal early in the first period, Veysey was brilliant in net the rest of the way as the Celtics defeated Milton’s Bishop Reding Royals, 3-1, at Valley Park Arena Wednesday.
That result gave Bishop Ryan the Golden Horseshoe Athletic Conference boys’ high school hockey championship and a berth to the OFSAA tournament March 21-23 in St. Catharines.
“(Veysey) stood on his head today,” Celtics coach Justin Cannon said in praise. “He was our player of the game and warrior of the game.”
Reding’s lone goal came on the rush when, at the blueline, Evan LeConte’s wrist shot appeared to be going over the net.
“It was a tough goal to let in,” Veysey said. “I guess it dipped a little. The puck hit my glove and helmet and then went in.”
Cannon called it a “fluke” and Veysey, who also plays for the Stoney Creek Warriors AA U18 team, said it was one of the worst he has ever allowed.
“Pretty bad,” Veysey said, “but we bounced back. As a goalie, you’ve just got to put that behind you. It went in. There’s nothing you can do about it. Focus on the next shot.”
It was just a temporary setback for the Celtics because by the end of the period they grabbed a 2-1 lead over the visitors.
Winger Ryan Wercholaz tied the score when he skated the puck from the wing to the top of the slot before snapping in a wrister.
Then, on a power play, Owen Hunks swiped in a rebound from teammate Sean Underhill to put Bishop Ryan ahead to stay.
An insurance goal followed late in the second period on a slap shot from the point by defenceman Alex Breau that deflected in off a Reding player near the crease.
“Alessio battled hard,” Cannon said. “In the third period he made some incredible point-blank saves.”
A disallowed goal in the second period kept the Halton Catholic champions from narrowing the gap, however. It came on a well-executed three-way passing play in close on which Veysey received a delay of game penalty.
“We were told that when (Veysey) slid over he kicked the net and it came off,” the Bishop Ryan coach said. “The net was off before the puck went in. It was a break for us. It was a beautiful goal.”
The large crowd in attendance saw a fast-skating game with plenty of scoring chances at both ends.
“It was a great game by our whole team,” Veysey said. “We came out strong. We were on top of everything. Our defence was covering the slot which made it easier on me.”
According to Cannon, the first-place Celtics rotated three goalies this season until Veysey went on a hot streak and “took the reins.”
A Grade 12 student, in his first year of high school hockey, Veysey says he’s looking forward to the OFSAA appearance.
“I’m pumped,” he said. “I didn’t think we would get this far. We’re probably going against harder teams than this, so we’ll have to bring our ‘A’ game.”
This was the first year in Bishop Ryan history that both the Celtic boys and girls hockey teams won city championships. The season ended for the BR girls Wednesday, though, with a 4-2 loss in the GHAC final against the Oakville Trafalgar Red Devils. That AAA game was played at Oakville’s Joshua Creek Arena.
Keira Savin and Maya Valeri scored for the Celtics, who took a 2-1 lead into the third period.