COLUMBUS, Ohio The St. Edward hockey team came just one step short of the ultimate prize when the Eagles fought hard, but ultimately fell 2-1 against Toledo St. Francis de Sales in the OHSAA state championship game on Sunday morning at the Ice Haus.
It stings, it hurts, said St. Edward coach Tim Sullivan. We have not been able to check that last box.
The Knights took the lead on a Luc Kuhr power play goal at 5:51 of the third period to break a 1-1 draw. The goal came just 13 seconds into the power play and was the second power play goal of the game for St. Francis and the seventh special teams goal in two days at the state tournament.
The Eagles never gave in and fired several shots at goal in the late stages of the game, but were unable to get the puck past goalkeeper Jackson Smalley. St. Edward finished the game 28-15 in shots on target.
They don’t quit, they never quit, Sullivan said of his players. We lost four games all year and we were behind a few. They kept coming back. When there is a second on the clock, I have a lot of confidence in this team.
St. Edward (26-4-1) had drawn the match 1-1 on a goal from Jack Monsour at 1:41 of the last period and seemed to take control until the penalty that gave St. Francis the power and ultimate game winner. The goal, the second of the weekend for Monsour, was assisted by Ryan Dunn and Jack OSullivan.
We had some momentum, Sullivan said. I am very proud of this group and this team, of course not the result we wanted now.
Devon Homier got the knights on the board first with a power play goal at 6:49 of the first period.
St. Edward goalkeeper Evan Wrightsman made 13 saves to keep the Eagles close, including a kick-save in the first half shortly after St. Francis took the 1-0 lead.
He played well and kept us in the game, Sullivan said. We’ve done a great job all year round.
The loss was not only tough for the players, who were visibly upset after the game, but also for the coach, who struggled to find the words to sum up what this team and this season meant to him.
This is difficult for a coach, whether you lose in the final or lose in the district final or the districts first game, because coaches have ties to these players, Sullivan said. I go to school with these guys every day. There are a few of these guys that I can no longer coach.
My heart is now broken for these guys. My heart is not broken because we lost, but my heart is broken because I will never be able to coach this particular team again.
When all was said and done, the OHSAA was able to wrap up a hockey season and post season amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Sullivan was proud of what his team has accomplished this season, not only on the ice but also off it, because of what it took to make a season a success.
They’ve done a lot to make this happen and I’m super proud of this group, really, Sullivan said. I know someone has to win at the end of the day, but in life, making sacrifices for other people and making sacrifices for yourself really wins.
We didn’t win the game, Sullivan said. But the lessons they will learn this year from all the things they did and had to do to come out and play this game, that’s winning right there.
– Ryan Isley is a freelancer from Akron.
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