Hockey: Upper Arlington Golden Bears fall in tight state semifinal

Dave Purpura
ThisWeek group
Upper Arlington's Rory Brennan (facing) and  Noah Domagalski console one another after a 3-0 loss to Lakewood St. Edward in a state semifinal March 13 at OhioHealth Ice Haus. The Golden Bears finished 22-10-0-3.

Considering Garrett Alderman saw 54 shots the last time he faced Lakewood St. Edward, the Upper Arlington hockey goalie viewed a 3-0 loss to the Eagles in a state semifinal March 13 at OhioHealth Ice Haus in perhaps a different light from fans or maybe even his teammates.

“This was the most evenly matched game we had against them all year,” Alderman said. “Even the game we beat them (3-2 in overtime Jan. 16), they outshot us like (54)-11. We laid everything out on the line. We put up a really good fight against a really good hockey team.”

In a game that was statistically even almost the entire way, St. Edward went ahead for good with a shorthanded goal from Jack O’Sullivan 4 minutes, 41 seconds into the second period and held off the Golden Bears, who were making their first state tournament appearance since 2007.

“We hung in there. We had a couple turnovers at the blue line that cost us and we couldn’t get the puck in the net. Maybe if we had a lucky bounce that would have gone our way, it would have been a little different,” UA coach Hamish Baird said. “The boys battled. They left it all out there and (the Eagles) threw everything they had at us.

“They move the puck very well. That created opportunities for them. We hit the post and the crossbar a couple times. That’s the way it goes sometimes.”

UA's Adam Karap tries to keep the puck from St. Edward's Joshua Szopo during the state semifinal. The Bears reached the state tournament for the first time since 2007.

Alderman made 20 saves in the loss, UA’s first since Feb. 3. The Bears had won seven consecutive games and were 10-0-1 in their previous 11 in finishing 22-10-0-3.

Alderman stopped the Eagles’ first nine shots before O’Sullivan blocked a shot from UA’s Rory Brennan, raced the other way and tucked his own shot above Alderman’s left shoulder.

“They have smart players. They had little to no trouble finding a passing lane even if we had one blocked,” Alderman said. “They know where to shoot the puck, where to make that next pass and where to skate.”

St. Edward also had defeated UA 3-1 on Dec. 19, but the Bears’ win over the Eagles came when the latter was top-ranked in the state.

Jack Mansour made it 2-0 with 55 seconds left in the second period, and St. Edward added an empty net goal with 1:13 to play. The Eagles outshot the Bears 23-19.

“(UA) is one heck of a hockey team and I don’t want to say I was worried, but they’re deep, their goaltender is really good and they’re talented across the board,” Eagles coach Tim Sullivan said. “When we got (the first goal), that didn’t mean momentum was going with us. They popped right back on us. …

“They’re deep and with deep comes skill. When you play a team that just doesn’t stop, a 2-0 lead with 15 minutes to go is like a 0-0 game. Included in their depth is that tenacity.”

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave