The Ohio High School Athletic Association State Championship faces off Saturday afternoon at Nationwide Arena, as the two best hockey teams in the Buckeye State, St. Ignatius and University School play for the title.
The puck drops at 2 PM.
This championship is a little different from usual, as both programs represent the Greater Cleveland Area. Ignatius represents the West. University School represents the far eastside.
The two teams both played in the Great Lakes Hockey League, (GLHL) meeting twice in the 2015-2016 regular season and then squared off in the Cleveland Cup Final. Ignatius won all three times.
Ignatius won the first meeting 3-1, the second meeting 4-0, and the Cleveland Cup Championship Game 5-3.
St. Ignatius went undefeated in nine games against conference opponents and is 37-2-1 overall. They have won 25 straight games.
University School finished third in the GLHL, going 7-3 in conference play, and owns an overall record of 26-11-2.
Both teams are coming off of exciting Semi-Final matchups on Thursday night in Day 1 of the Frozen Four in Columbus.
University School won a double overtime thriller 3-2, thanks to a game-winning goal from Robbie Engoglia.
The other Semi-Final matchup between St. Ignatius and Toledo St. Francis de Sales was not as close of a game, but was every bit as exciting.
The Wildcats stunned St. Francis de Sales, scoring two early goals back-to-back in the first period, and would go on to win 5-1.
Both of these schools are rich in hockey history.
The University School Preppers have won two State Championships in school history, their first title coming in 2003, and their most recent championship in 2009.
Ignatius has won three State Championships in school history, most recently having to share a title in the 2014 Title Game against Sylvania Northview, which was declared a tie after seven overtimes. It was the longest game in state hockey history.
Prior to that, the Wildcats won the State Championship in 2000 and 2010.
Wildcats Head Coach Pat O’Rourke told reporters following the State Semi-Final win over Toledo St. Francis de Sales that having to share the 2014 title still eats at him and it has been motivation ever since.
Regardless of the outcome of Saturday’s Final, Northeast Ohio has two great teams to be proud of and one of these teams will come home from Columbus a champion.
I’ll be live at the game from Nationwide Arena, so keep up with all the action by following @NEOSportsInside on Twitter.