Gilmour falls to St. Edward in Cleveland Cup the next day
It was a great feeling for the Gilmour Lancers hockey team when they clinched the Cleveland Cup Championship last year. It would be an even sweeter feeling if they could defend their championship title this year. It was going to be more challenging this season due to both the pandemic and the fact that the Lancers had graduated most of their leading scorers from last year.
Gilmour would have to become a different team this season. It still had capable scorers on the roster still but would need to rely on its defense to spark the offense. The Lancers had played some white knucklers this season but was in as good a position as ever to repeat.
Despite all their success the Lancers did have one major blip on their record during the regular season by losing the season series to neighborhood rivals the Universtiy School Preppers. After taking the first game Gilmour dropped the next two contests against their Great Lakes High School Hockey League foes. The Lancers avenged their regular season losses by knocking off the Preppers in an overtime thriller in the Cleveland Cup semifinals by a score of 1-0 on Feb. 12 in Strongsville but fell short of back-to-back championships in a 3-2 loss to St. Edward on Feb. 13.
Gilmour and University School engaged in a defensive stalemate in the semifinals match. Despite having 55 shots on goal senior Preppers’ netminder Jeffrey Fillion was a brick wall and made big stops at the defensive end. It was clear that this was the type of game where the first team that scored would
The Lancers broke through in overtime when they brought the puck into the Preppers’ zone and senior defensemen Ricky Hughes sent the puck across to junior defenseman Connor Underwood to the opposite blue line and Underwood went bar-down with 4:13 left in overtime to send the Lancers back to the Cleveland Cup Championship.
“It was just a really nice job putting it in a hard place for the goalie to stop,” said Preppers’ head coach Andy Gerot.
It was a great feeling to get back to the championship, but it was even sweeter for the Lancers knowing they eliminated their neighborhood rivals to get there. They would not have much rest though as they were set to play the St. Edward Eagles the next day in a rematch of the finals from the 2020 season.
Despite not having a ton of rest the Lancers still played with a lot of energy. Head coach John Malloy has been blessed with having a tremendous amount of depth this season allowing him to run out four lines. It was a back-and-forth affair with St. Edward holding a 2-1 lead in the closing minutes. Gilmour forced a face-off in the Eagles’ zone and senior forward Frankie Valenti sent the game into overtime 39 seconds left in regulation with a lamplighter from across the net.
Neither team could break through after the 5-minute overtime so it was going to come down to a shootout. Each team would get three shots at the goal and whoever scored the most out of those three shots would win it. The Lancers and St. Edward were tied 1-1 after three rounds so it moved into sudden death. The first team that scored and held the opposing team scoreless would be declared the victory. Eagles’ senior forward Jack O’Sullivan clinched the title with the game-winning goal.
“Any time you get down to a shootout anything can happen. We’ve been fortunate in some games over the last couple of years being able to win those overtime and shootout games but last night we came up short,” said coach Malloy.
It was a tough loss to take but the Gilmour head coach could not be prouder of the defensive effort his team showed in the tournament. The defense gave up a grand total of four goals through three games. Now Gilmour must prepare for the Brooklyn East District tournament.
“We know that we’ve got targets on our back. Teams are going to be after us and know they’re going to have to give an effort to beat us. This is where the leadership and having all the seniors that we have on our team really helps us in terms of that we’re not going to get caught napping,” said Coach Malloy
Gilmour’s first game in the tournament will come against Mayfield on Saturday afternoon in Brooklyn while the Preppers will face off against Chagrin Falls on Sunday afternoon.