Goalie Heroics Not Enough as STM Falls to Nelson

Goalie Heroics Not Enough as STM Falls to Nelson
Posted on 03/05/2024

By Larry Moko

After two periods of the Golden Horseshoe Athletic Conference boys’ high school hockey semifinal, the St. Thomas More Knights appeared well on their way to victory.

The Knights had deservedly built a 4-1 lead with only one 15-minute period remaining.

But in a stunning comeback, the Nelson Lords of Burlington tied the score in regulation and then won it in overtime, 5-4, at Appleby Arena Tuesday.

Mason Shatilla’s third goal of the game for Nelson -- 83 seconds into OT -- ended More’s season and advanced the Halton public league champions to Thursday’s GHAC final against Halton Catholic.

“They were relentless,” Knights coach Gino Leone said of the Lords. “You’ve got to hand it to them. They just kept bringing the pressure towards our net.

“Being down 4-1 it seemed they had no quit. They worked hard. A couple of goals at the start of the third period shifted the momentum in their favour.”

The Knights led 3-0 in the first period on goals by Josh Cordell, Jeremy Duck and Liam Ryerson. Then, in the second, Nelson’s Ryan Dallimore got Nelson on the scoreboard before Logan Slack restored More’s three-goal advantage.

 Goals in the first five minutes of the third period by Matti Manninen and Shatilla (his first of three straight) made it a one-goal game.

“We can’t seem to do anything easy,” Nelson coach Jeff Brock said. “It was the same thing last week (against the Hayden Huskies). We couldn’t get anything going for two periods and then we turned it on at the end.
“I think we had them on their heels going into overtime.”

Both coaches praised they play of Knights goaltender Danny Doyle. Said Brock: “Their goalie was fantastic. I don’t know what we threw at him, probably 40 or 50 shots. He stood on his head. We just kept telling our guys to go to the net and try to bang in a dirty goal. We managed to do it.”

It was Grade 12 goalie Doyle’s first year of varsity high school hockey after a lengthy background at the AAA rep level.
“He held us in this game with his solid play,”  Leone said. “We couldn’t have asked anything more of him. He basically won us the (Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic) championship this year. He could be playing Junior A or Junior B anywhere.”

Leone said that More had a setback when three players – including high-scoring Joey Sinclair – were called up to junior teams.
"Despite being short-handed, I'm not going to use that as an excuse," the Knights coach remarked. "Our guys always battle hard, regardless of who's in the lineup.

“I think we deserved better today, especially with the start we had. It’s unfortunate the way it ended.”
It was the first city hockey championship for More since 2016.

“Overall, it was a great season,” Leone said. “I’m happy for the guys. It was a great experience. Hopefully we can learn from this and make the next step.”

Elsewhere at Appleby Arena Tuesday, the St. Mary Crusaders defeated the Aldershot Aces 7-2 in a GHAC final for A/AA teams. So, with the victory, the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic league entry advances to the OFSAA tournament March 19-21 in Brooklin.
In recent girls’ playoff hockey, Georgetown blanked the Bishop Ryan Celtics, 2-0, in an AAA GHAC semifinal while, at the AA GHAC final, Burlington Central topped St. Mary, 5-0.

Photos by R.F. (Bob) Butrym, RFB Sport Photography

More photos on the HWCDSB Athletics Facebook page here