The successes for the inaugural season for Santa Margarita Catholic High School’s ice hockey program continued as the team traveled to Columbus, Ohio to compete in a tournament against teams from Ohio, Missouri and Indiana over the Thanksgiving holiday.
Santa Margarita became a member of the Anaheim Ducks High School Hockey League for the 2009-10 season, joining JSerra Catholic High School in a program that launched in September 2008.
After a resounding victory against their rivals from J Serra last week, 6-0, the Eagles competed with confidence at the varsity level with a team made up of mostly freshman and sophomores.
That confidence grew with a hard-fought 1-0 win against Liberty HS. Logan Borzanskis goal was all SM needed as the team rode Connor O’Brien's excellent goaltending. The coaches' theme of believing in yourself and your teammates, hard work and unselfish play carried over into the second game, with Connor O’Brien notching his second shutout in a 2-0 win. Logan Borzansky and Max Kilkuts provided the scoring in another strong defensive effort led by the Eagles defense of Kyle Conway, Dean Rhymer, Aaron Green, Ricky Turner and Kyle McDonald. Game 3 was much of the same, as Bryan Hodges' two goals and the Eagles' quick passing, teamwork, speed and hard work paid off with a decisive 4-1 win and a trip to the championship game against St John Vianney of St. Louis, Mo.
Head Coach Craig Johnson's focus on special team play and strategy, defensive zone coverage and playing with courage and confidence was tested early when Danny Boutosouv, the team's tournament leading scorer, went into the boards hard just three minutes into the game. Boutosouv was taken to the hospital by ambulance after a 30-minute delay, with X-rays showing a fractured hip. The team responded with a goal by Kayden Muzilla, giving the Eagles a 1-0 lead. O’Brien's stellar play in net kept the game tied until the third period. With the game tied 1-1, the Eagles' defensive play and strong goaltending continued to frustrate St John Vianney as the game went into overtime.
The 4-minute OT period was dominated by the Eagles in the 4-on-4 format. The Eagles speed created a breakaway by Bryan Hodges and Max Kilkuts, who narrowly missed winning the game. That was followed by Kyle Conway hitting the post seconds later. OT ended with the game still tied 1-1, and the game would be decided by a shootout with SM shooting first. Both teams' excellent goaltending carried forward into the shootout format, as all 15 Eagles were stymied by St John Vianney’s goalie. O’Brien matched that excellence as “The Wall” made 15 breakaway stops in a row, giving Dean Rhymer a second chance to give the Eagles a tournament win. Rhymer, coach Johnson's choice to shoot first, did not disappoint, as he scored by going high blocker, putting SM in a position to win with one final save by O’Brien remaining. O’Briens heroics continued, as he stopped Vianney’s final chance with his 16th save in the shootout and an Eagle tournament championship win.