Clayton Klosz started the fireworks and the rest of the St. Charles Preparatory School hockey team followed suit.
The junior forward scored the first of three third-period goals, and the top-seeded Cardinals rallied past fourth-seeded Upper Arlington 3-1 in a district semifinal Feb. 23 at OhioHealth Ice Haus.
The victory moved St. Charles into its first district final appearance at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, March 1, against second-seeded Olentangy Orange, which defeated third-seeded Dublin Jerome 4-2 in the other semifinal Feb. 23. The winner advances to a state semifinal March 7 at Nationwide Arena against Toledo St. John's or Sylvania Southview.
"The coaches told us during the second intermission that we couldn't go home today ... we had more to prove," said Klosz, whose team is a program-best 33-3-2 and was ranked sixth in the final state poll behind top-ranked Cleveland St. Ignatius. "We came out and had a little extra in our step in the third period."
Upper Arlington, which finished 18-13-2, took a 1-0 lead in the opening period. That advantage held until defenseman Sean Gavin passed near the net to Klosz, who tipped in the tying goal with 11 minutes, 47 seconds to play.
Ryan Brady put St. Charles up for good with 7:47 left as Jacob Weikert and Daniel Schirtzinger assisted. Ryan Cleary added the final goal, an unassisted empty-netter with 17.4 seconds remaining.
Alex Ward had 17 saves for the Cardinals.
"(The Golden Bears) were really pressuring us in the first two periods," said Brady, a senior forward. "We knew we couldn't let this season go to waste. We wanted to come out and get a quick one and the rest would be ours."
Orange, which is 27-4-3-2, tied Toledo St. Francis for 10th in the final state poll and finished second in the district poll behind St. Charles.
The Cardinals defeated Orange 3-2 in overtime in a Blue Jackets Cup semifinal Feb. 7 at Chiller Dublin. St. Charles went on to win its first Blue Jackets Cup title by defeating Jerome 2-1 on Feb. 9 at the Ice Haus.
The Pioneers beat the Cardinals 1-0 on Dec. 21 in Capital Hockey Conference play.
The Cardinals defeated Cincinnati Moeller 8-1 in the third round of district play Feb. 22 at the Ice Haus. Cleary scored twice, and Aaron Bowman, Klosz, Alec Organ, Logan Rupert, Mitch Wade and Weikert all scored once.
"It means a lot to get this far," Klosz said. "We've gone further than any St. Charles (hockey) team has gone before. It shows that we are no longer a middle-tier team. We want to keep it this way for years to come."
Swimmers reach podium in three events
The swimming and diving team finished 12th (64) in the Division I state meet Feb. 20-22 at Branin Natatorium in Canton behind champion Cincinnati St. Xavier (255) as 61 teams scored.
Tyler Welty placed sixth in the 100-yard breaststroke (57.95 seconds) to reach the podium as one of the top eight finishers.
Also reaching the podium were the members of two relays. The 200 medley relay of Max Penn, Welty, Austin Beam and Derek Nguyen was seventh (1:35.65) and the 200 free relay of Franz Kabelka, Nick Ward, Nguyen and Hannes Kabelka was eighth (1:27.26).
Franz Kabelka was 16th in the 200 free (1:43.19) and 18th in the 100 free (47.09), and Penn was 13th in the 100 backstroke (52.8) and 24th in the 100 breast (1:02.04).
Beam was 19th in the 200 individual medley (1:56.84) and 22nd in the 100 back (53.41).
The 400 free relay of Hannes Kabelka, Ward, Franz Kabelka and Michael Ritchey was disqualified in the preliminaries.
Rooney makes third state wrestling meet
Junior Tim Rooney qualified for a third consecutive Division I state wrestling tournament Thursday, Feb. 27-Saturday, March 1, at Ohio State.
Rooney went 3-2 at 138 pounds at district Feb. 21 and 22 at Hilliard Darby to place fourth, as the top four in each weight class advanced. He enters state at 37-5.
Also at district, Danny Wolfe went 0-2 at 113 for the Cardinals, who finished 30th (13.5) behind champion Marysville (147.5) as 37 teams scored.
Last year, Rooney finished fifth at 126, becoming the program's first sophomore to place at state.
Basketball team to face Groveport
The basketball team is 12-9 and plays at 19th-seeded Groveport on Friday, Feb. 28, in the second round of the Division I district tournament.
Otis Smith hit a 3-pointer with 23 seconds remaining to lift visiting St. Charles past 14th-seeded Thomas Worthington 37-35 on Feb. 22 in a first-round game.
Sean Hennessey had 18 points with four 3-pointers and David Aslaner added nine points on three 3s.
The 27th-seeded Cardinals have not played Groveport this season. The Cruisers had a first-round bye and are 11-11.
The winner plays second-seeded Gahanna or 39th-seeded Logan in a district semifinal at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 4, at Marysville. The Lions were 20-3 before playing Logan on Feb. 25 and have not played the Cardinals. Logan, which was 7-11, lost to St. Charles 51-38 on Dec. 30.
The district final is March 8 at the Fairgrounds Coliseum.
Thomas advances to district in bowling
Noah Thomas of the bowling team advanced to the Division I district tournament Saturday, March 1, at Eastland Lanes.
The top four individuals not on qualifying teams will advance to state March 7 at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl.
Thomas rolled a 513 three-game series at sectional Feb. 21 at Eastland Lanes to finish 45th overall behind individual champion Brandon Kandler (725) of Hilliard Bradley. The top 20 teams and top 20 individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to district.
The Cardinals placed 29th (2,997) of 40 teams behind champion Walnut Ridge (3,805). Lancaster (3,273) earned the final qualifying spot.
David Downey (440) and Wyatt Beltz (422) also rolled three games at sectional.