Cats set or tie 6 team records in earning 1st state title!!

by Coach Elliott on March 19, 2012

 The Northview Wildcats Captured the programs 1st state title, after 4 previous heart breaking defeats in the title game, with a 5 to 2 win over nemesis St. Edwards Sunday at Nationwide Arena in Columbus. Skating in front of a strong group of Students, fans and alumni the Cats methodically played their systems in building a 4 to 0 lead before sealing it with an empty net goal in the final seconds of the 3rd period. St Ed’s had beat the Cats in the title game in 1990 and eliminated them in back to back years in the semi’s in 86? & 87?.

In the state semi-final on Saturday senior Phil Bowles set a single season shutout record with 8 and tied the career mark with his 15th in leading the Cats past Olentangy Orange 6 to 0. Freshman Ian Clement staked the Cats to a 1 to 0 lead, with the eventual game-winner, near the 10 minute mark of the 1st period. Zach Felser hit for a power-play goal and a shorthanded goal in the 2nd as the Cats built a 3 to 0 lead outshooting the Pioneers 28 to 5 through 2 periods of play. Drew Crandall and Dalton Carter hit for 2 more short-handed goals and Xavier Sudlow put an exclamation point on the day with a power-play goal for the final margin. Bowles did the rest. The senior completed an amazing career as he posted his 8th shutout of the season breaking a record he held at 7 with Craig Trego 08? and 06? graduate Bobby McElheney. For his career Phil finished with a 28-3-2 record,15 shutouts and a 1.16 goals against average, incredible.

On Sunday Phil tagged off to goal tending partner Austin Gryca. Told that a rotational goalie situation would never work, the coaching staff stuck with the recipe that got them to the dance. Fresh legs and a fresh mind Gryca delivered for his team. Northview would strike just 1:15 into the contest as Sophomore Cody Estrel hit on a 3 on 2 rush feed from Zach Felser for the early lead. After Gryca stoned the Eagles on a couple of chances Estrel hit for a 2nd time in the final minute for a 2 to 0 lead. His tap in goal off a beautiful tick-tack-toe play from cousins Jacob Koback and Zach Felser gave the Cats a little cushion heading into the 1st intermission. Drew Crandall pushed the lead to 3 to 0 with a very fitting game-winner and Dalton Carter pushed it to 4 to 0 with his top shelf snipe early in the 3rd period on the Cats lone power-play. With Names like Carter, Crandall and Felser it was like going back in time for many of the fans of the program. Ed’s wouldn’t quit as they scored at the 5 minute mark to close to within 3. Northview would have no part of a comeback on this day. After a late goal closed the game to 4 to 2, Junior Nick Laplante sent the crowed into hysteria with a empty net goal to seal the win. Gryca stood tall in the nets as his 28 saves gave the Cats and the school the 1st state title of any team sport. Gryca became the only goalie in school history to play in 2 state final games. He also was in net for 3 district final games during his brilliant 4 year career while finishing with 45 career wins good for 6th all-time.

The Cats defense  kept the Eagles from generating much in the way of quality scoring chances. With the 2 goals against on Sunday the Cats surrendered just 3 goals in the state playoff run epitomizing what they had done all season. Northview gave up just 46 goals on the year smashing the old mark of 61 goals against set by the 2004-05 squad. They recorded a 1.31 goals against avg. for the season.  They also set records for most shutouts in a season with 12, least amount of defeats with 1 and tied the most wins in school history with 31.

 This team bought into a plan laid out by the coaching staff back in June. While other teams and all their friends slept in and went to the lake, the Cats were up at 7 running and lifting weights. They had a singular focus with only the team in mind. It didn’t matter who scored the goals or who got the wins. When Bowles secured the semi-final win, it was Gryca who was the 1st to congratulate him. The Defense took pride that if you gave up zero goals you couldn’t lose. They did it as a team and they did it the right way. Boys you have made all of us Coaches, Alumni and Fans proud to be Wildcats!!! Thank you for putting that final piece to what we all know is the greatest hockey family in the world!!!

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Northview vs. Olentangy Orange

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