BY J. PATRICK EAKEN | MIRROR SPORTS — Anthony Wayne needed to win just one of three games to reach the championship of the Toledo Walleye WinterFest Tournament last weekend.
Thomas Worthington went 3-0 in pool play, while the other three teams, AW, Parma Normandy and Columbus Bishop Watterson all finished 1-2, but the Generals won the tiebreaker in goals-against margin.
They were scheduled to take on Worthington in Monday’s championship at Bowling Green State University’s Slater Family Ice Arena. Worthing-ton defeated AW, 2-1, in pool play on Sunday at the Huntington Center in downtown Toledo.
Anthony Wayne’s lone win was 11-5 over Parma Normandy on Friday, but the Generals never got to play Watterson due to the weather on Saturday night.
Watterson, which did not win a game on the ice, was awarded a 1-0 forfeit victory for the purposes of the WinterFest, but that will not affect AW’s regular season record.
AW 11, Normandy 5
Anthony Wayne had its biggest scoring outburst of the season in taking down Parma Normandy, 11-5, in the opening game of the WinterFest.
Sophomore Ben Thomas led the way with four goals and three assists, including two straight unassisted goals.
His first unassisted goal came after he was tripped on a breakaway with 6:14 remaining in the game, and he successfully maneuvered to his right on the ensuing penalty shot to give AW a 7-4 lead.
The chance to take a penalty shot in a game situation is rare, but Thomas relished the opportunity.
“It was a little bit nerve-wracking, but I just calmed myself down and let the goalie make his first move,” he said, “and then I went off of what he did.”
When he was tripped, Thomas was just one of three Generals on the ice, as AW had two in the penalty box and the rest were going against five Invaders.
Just 19 seconds later, Thomas scored on a breakaway again, and AW was still shorthanded, facing a 3-on-5 situation.
One of his other two goals did come on a power play and he was assisted, but Thomas did not take the credit for all his scores.
For instance, Normandy’s starting goalie had to leave the game in the first period because of an injury.
“I thought I had some lucky breaks,” Thomas said. “We had a good power play and, unfortunately, they had their back-up goalie and he wasn’t their best, but I think I capitalized on my opportunities.”
Meanwhile, Ben’s older brother, senior goalie Sam Thomas, made 18 saves, but some of the Invaders’ goals came by unconventional means.
“I’m not really ecstatic about giving up five goals,” Boehme said. “A lot of fluky goals today that they scored. The first one was a change-up and the second one went off a skate and went in. I don’t even know what to say about some of those goals.
“Between that and how many pucks went out of play today, I’ve never seen so many stoppages for random things, but it was just one of those games.”
Normandy defenseman Brennan Sutton found the net on a slap shot, assisted by Cody Tintlinot, giving the Invaders a 3-1 lead with 11:54 left in the second period, but it was all Anthony Wayne after that.
AW scored the final two goals of the second to tie the game at 3-3 and then exploded for eight goals in the third. The Generals outshot the Invaders 31-23.
Joel Semancik scored twice for Anthony Wayne, Jason Utterback had one goal and two assists, Cole Dorner and Drew Seals had one goal and one assist apiece and Jacob Kane scored once.
The Generals’ Zach Knapp, Logan Schuster, Jesse Rose and Colin DiMario had one assist apiece.
Boehme was not happy with the way his team started out, even though they finished strong.
“We didn’t really buy into the game plan,” he said. “Our preparation for this game was a little off, and I don’t know if it was because we were traveling through a snowstorm to get here or what the deal was, but we came out not really ready to go.
“We weren’t forcing the puck enough, we weren’t pushing the play we were supposed to, our neutral zone movement was poor.”
He said things really started moving once Drew Seals was able to join the game.
“He’s a speed guy who can stretch it for us and I think that was a big difference in the third,” Boehme said, “having him out there and having a little bit of confidence with the guys.”
In addition, the coach noticed that Normandy’s style was a bit unconventional, but added that he sees that often from Cleveland-area teams.
“Cleveland has always been that way – they do things a lot differently,” he said. “They ran a 1-2-2 forecheck on us to try and stop up our wingers and it worked right off the bat.
“Then, they kind of switched that into something else. They threw three lines at us and every line does something different. Give our boys credit – they fought through it.”
Worthington 2, AW 1
This game could not have been much more evenly matched as the Cardinals outshot the Generals by only two, 31-29, and the game nearly ended in a 1-1 tie.
There was rarely a minute of the game when one team did not have a power play opportunity, or both teams had players or even multiple players in the penalty box at the same time.
The game saw 18 penalties whistled, not including misconduct calls. Both Worthing-ton scores came on power plays, while AW’s goal was a straight five-on-five.
The Cardinals’ Will Pischel, however, scored the game winner on a power play thanks to assists from Alex Piero and Nick Schriner with 2:09 left to give Worthington a 2-1 lead that would stick.
“That’s a tough one because it was so close,” Boehme said. “I like the way we fought back. We came out slow. We were sluggish.”
The Cardinals struck first when Sebastian Edwardson scored on assists from Schriner and Sam Hartwick on a power play with 5:13 remaining in the first period.
Zack Conrad got the Generals on the board with 2:47 to go in the second, scoring on assists from Knapp and Rose.
“The game plan was originally to get the puck to the net a lot, (but) we had trouble finding the net in the first period and they kind of capitalized early on us,” Boehme said.
“We didn’t ramp things up the way that we needed to and when we got that goal in the second that elevated us a little bit.”
Sam Thomas made 29 saves, but Worthington came up big in goal, too.
“Sam made some big saves and their goalie made a couple big saves on us, too,” Boehme said. “It was tough that he made some really good saves.”
Boehme hoped his team would learn from this game during their rematch for the championship on Monday.
“We’ve got a little something to come back with. They’ll get motivated, if nothing else,” Boehme said.
“Tomorrow, hopefully, we can get back at them with a little more movement around the net and get the goalie moving side to side.”
This weekend, AW gets back to Northwest Hockey Conference White Division action, taking on Springfield at Tam-O-Shanter on Friday.
Then on Saturday, the Generals will travel to BGSU to take on Perrysburg in a game that could decide the White Division regular season title.