“A tie?!” say state champions

by Patrick Millican ‘15

The OHSAA’s decision to call the Ignatius-Sylvania Northview state hockey championship game a tie, after seven sudden-death overtimes without a game-winning goal, has sparked debate nationwide and brought Ignatius into the spotlight of national media outlets including the New York Times, USA Today and FOXSports.

The discussion has revolved around the ramifications of ending a championship game without a winner, and whether the exhausted players deserved to have a clear outcome after over four hours of play. Student reaction on campus varies, but students surveyed directly were preponderantly negative despite overwhelming support for the team at Monday’s all-school rally.

Some students, including junior Matt Rath ‘15, characterized the result as abjectly unfair.

“It’s not a victory if it’s a tie,” Rath said, echoing the views of students who held out in the stands for the entire game. After the OHSAA announced the game had concluded, Ignatius students booed, and the Sylvania Northview student fan base chanted “Let them play” to no avail. The state body had decided to call the game early in order to protect player safety.

Ignatius students like Victor Lutz ‘15 expressed skepticism over whether the co-champion declaration was valid.

“The result is shocking,” Lutz said. “Tradition holds that there’s one state champion. I think it’s stupid.”

Peter DeGaetano ‘17 felt that Saint Ignatius had been deprived of an outright and inevitable win over the fatigued Sylvania varsity.

“It was unfair that Ignatius got ripped off, since they were eventually going to score and the other team was too tired,” he said. “They weren’t conditioned enough, so we had the advantage.”

Members of the hockey team seemed to be more supportive of the result, although the consensus was not unanimous.

Seth Whitney ‘17, a junior varsity and sometimes varsity player who travelled with the hockey team to Columbus, said that with hindsight the regulatory body made the right choice.

“Ultimately, it was the right decision. We outplayed them, but in the end we’re both state champions,” Whitney said. “It was the right decision.”

Senior Beck Schultz ‘14, on the other hand, was critical of the OHSAA call. He expressed his disappointment at ending his final season as a Wildcat hockey player without a clear-cut championship.

“It was kind of blindsiding. We were ready to play an eighth overtime and then we realized [Northview] weren’t coming out, and coach called us over and told us it would be a co-title,” Schultz said. “It was shocking. No one wants to end their senior year with a tie.”

Matt Moore ‘14, team manager, simply described the decision as “shady.”

Negative feelings about the result may change once the state championship trophy reaches the school’s trophy case. But at Monday’s raucous, celebratory rally, the varsity head coach Patrick O’Rourke was crystal-clear about how proud he he felt about his team after their performance Saturday.

“If we can walk around these halls and feel like state champions, that’s all that matters. So here’s my question: in your opinion, does this team, the team that went wire to wire in the polls, won the inaugural Cleveland Cup, won its district, won its state semifinal seven to zero, and played superbly for four and a half hours in the state final, does this team deserve to walk together forever as the 2014 state hockey champions of Ohio?” O’Rourke asked the student body to a standing ovation and thunderous applause. He He affirmed the deep bond between himself and his players, and expressed heartfelt awe at their efforts on the ice. “You guys kept at it and never gave up. I’m so proud of you.”