There is a positive vibe surrounding the Walsh Jesuit boys hockey team this season and coach Pat McKendry is loving it.
McKendry knows that any successful team must have two characteristics: players who like each other and players who have athletic ability.
Fortunately for McKendry, these Warriors possess both, with a talented group of 10 seniors and several underclassmen contributing.
“In my 10 years at Walsh, I have yet to find a better group of seniors that wants to play together, be together and work for one another,” McKendry said. “These guys are special. I am having a blast coaching them. It is fun to be around these guys. They are good kids. I can’t speak better of 10 young men.”
Walsh (14-12-4, 6-1-2) will host Mentor Lake Catholic in the Great Lakes Hockey League regular-season finale at 7:30 p.m. today at Kent State University’s Ice Arena.
The Warriors, who are in first place in the GLHL, are ranked No. 7 in the state poll and are seeking to win a league title on Senior Night.
Walsh enters the matchup following a 3-1 victory over No. 6-ranked Parma Heights Holy Name last Tuesday night at Ries Arena in Parma.
Seniors Chris Gaul, Mitch Hines and Jack Huscroft each scored a goal in the third period for Walsh, which will compete in the upcoming OHSAA hockey tournament along with approximately 80 other schools.
The GLHL is in its inaugural year and features eight private schools: Walsh, Holy Name (6-2-0), Cleveland St. Ignatius (5-1-2), Hunting Valley University School (5-1-2), Mentor Lake Catholic (4-3-2), Gates Mills Gilmour Academy (3-5-0), Lakewood St. Edward (1-7-0) and Parma Padua (0-10-0).
Gaul’s goal, his 10th this season, came with 12:42 to go in the third period off an assist from junior Kevin Van Bokkelen.
Hines’ goal, his eighth, came with 6:25 remaining. Junior Nate Allman and senior Todd Lambert were each credited with an assist.
Huscroft netted his goal with 5:29 left following a pass from senior Joel Ruane.
McKendry said Huscroft leads the Warriors in goals (19) and assists (13). Seniors Colin Lippincott (seven goals, 15 assists) and sophomore Jack Wohlabaugh (eight goals, nine assists) are also key players in Walsh’s attack.
Walsh senior goaltender Jamie Studer made 25 saves Tuesday.
McKendry said Huscroft, Lippincott, Studer, Lambert and Gaul are leaders.
Seniors Jimmy Fladung, Jack Lostoski, Nick Nervo, Hines and Ruane also contribute regularly to a “bond the seniors have created,” McKendry said.
“From Dec. 16 to Jan. 17 we did not lose a game,” McKendry said. “We won seven times and tied three times. We have done very well and have a very high ranking because of the will of our seniors. Jamie Studer has a goals-against average of 2.02 for the season.”
Junior Jake Atkinson and sophomores Matt Mueller and Drew Musgrave are three other key players for Walsh.
Toledo St. John’s Jesuit is ranked No. 1 in the state. Hudson is ranked No. 20 and Kent Roosevelt is No. 24.
Wadsworth’s girls basketball team continued its perfect record with a 60-33 Suburban League victory over visiting Tallmadge on Saturday.
Sophomore Jodi Johnson led the Grizzlies (18-0, 11-0) with 17 points. Senior Hannah Centea contributed 13 points and senior Maddie Gilger chipped in nine points.
Firestone rolls in series
The Firestone girls basketball team remained undefeated in City Series play following its 59-39 win over visiting Ellet on Saturday.
Senior Destini Turner paced the Falcons (12-5, 10-0) with 17 points. Darian Carter scored 10 points and Ashley Ingram added nine points.
Seniors guide Hoover
Seniors Kaylee Stroemple, Marquia Turner and Julie Worley each scored 17 points Saturday to guide the North Canton Hoover girls basketball team to an 80-33 win over visiting Boardman. Hoover is 16-2 overall and 10-0 in the Federal League.
Korinek leads St. V-M
Jordan Korinek continued her standout senior season with 21 points and 12 rebounds Saturday to lead the St. Vincent-St. Mary girls basketball team to a 57-28 win over visiting Canton Central Catholic.
Senior Kiley May also reached double figures for the Irish (17-1) with 12 points.
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MBeavenABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.