Celtics Overcome Late Penalties

Celtics Overcome Late Penalties to Secure First-Ever Junior High Hockey Championship
Posted on 05/01/2024
HockeyBy Larry Moko

A late-game skirmish resulted in penalties which threatened to jeopardize Bishop Ryan’s championship hockey aspirations Tuesday.

It meant that the Celtics would have to play shorthanded for seven minutes – even though there was only 3 minutes, 24 seconds remaining in the third period.

But the first-place Celtics were able to hang on. They not only maintained their one-goal lead, they scored an empty-net goal with 29 seconds left to defeat the St. John Henry Newman Cardinals, 2-0, in the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic junior high school hockey final.

It marked the first time BR had captured the HWCDSB trophy. Previous winners were the Bishop Tonnos Titans and the St. Thomas More Knights.

Five teams – Newman, More, Tonnos, St. Mary and Bishop Ryan -- competed this season in a round-robin tournament prior to the semifinal and championship games.

“Our penalty kill has been great all year,” Celtics captain Levi Snider said. “We didn’t give up any power-play goals. So I was confident we could do it again.”

Snider, a lanky Grade 10 centre, scored both goals. He gave BR the lead on a power play mid way through the third. It came just nine seconds after a faceoff in the Cardinals zone.

“I tried to win the draw and pull it back to my defenceman (Gavin Barricelli). His shot made it happen. I was just there for the rebound.”

Said Celtics coach Justin Cannon: “The puck actually hit (BR forward) Brett MacQueen in the chest and popped loose. Levi jammed it in on his second attempt.”

Snider then added an insurance marker from about 190 feet.

Second-place Newman also pulled its goaltender, Owen Papp, in favour of a sixth attacker with 80 seconds on the clock.

“It was a great game,” Snider said. “We worked hard all season for this. It ended up how we wanted it to. It feels good.

“We fell short in the varsity season losing to Newman (in a semifinal). So it was nice to pay them back in junior."

Cannon pointed out that Snider was the school’s junior athlete-of-the year last year and the junior hockey team’s rookie-of-the year in 2023.

“He’s an unbelievable player,” coach Cannon said. “He does everything. He was the second leading scorer for our varsity team this year and led this junior team in scoring.”

Other members of the Celtics are Luca Moretuzzo, Lucas Underhill, Michael Alford, Brady Guimond, Jett Metaxas, Mason Hunks, Carter Brennan, Colton Vanderelzen, Kane Bazinet, Boston Strauch, Cameron Schweitzer, Jace Folz, Lincoln Harron, Taylor Charlton, Luke Della Maestra, Nolan Pond, Luca Roberto, Mary Monaghan, Jada Perger, Andrew Gabel and Nicholas Groppo. Marcus LoPresti and Nicholas Lagges provided the goaltending.

“Our goalie (Lagges) got a shutout in the championship game,” Cannon said. “You can’t ask for more than that.”

The Celtics completed an undefeated season -- 6-0 --  while Newman’s overall record was 3-2-1.

The Cardinals lineup featured three players who got drafted at this year’s OHL priority selections – Papp (Erie Otters), Brady McConnell (Niagara Ice Dogs) and Marcus Sulug (Peterborough Petes).

“We had a ton of depth,” Cannon said. “These guys exceeded any expectations we had coming into it.

“They’ve been excellent. It bodes well for our varsity team.”

Photos by Bob Butrym, RFB Sport Photography

More photos on the HWCDSB Athletics Facebook page here