(LaSALLE, ON) – “It feels amazing. It’s something you dream of,” said an excited Nicholas Mutton, the St Peter Saints goalie, on winning the OFSAA Boys’ AAA Hockey Championship with a shutout Thursday afternoon. Mutton backstopped the Saints to a 4-0 victory over the host Villanova Wildcats.
“It was a crazy win, Mutton continued, as he stood smiling amid his celebrating teammates. “We came out very strong, we took it to them all game. Didn’t really give them any hope. It hasn’t really sunk in yet, to be honest.”
St Peter, a separate secondary school in Peterborough, opened the scoring of the final 2:35 into the first period, with a goal from Jesse Merrill. The Saints put pressure on Villanova’s goalie Lucas Diluca early on and never let up.
With 6:56 left in the second, St Peter’s Merrill found twine again and soon after Ethan Young made it 3-0. After a timeout, Villanova seemed to regain their composure, but were able to put up little offense.
Halfway through the final stanza, Saints’ captain Jared Foxon netted one to cap off the victory.
The Saints’ only previous OFSAA boys’ hockey championship was 2013, when they won the tournament in Brampton.
As hosts, the Villanova Wildcats had a remarkably good tournament. In the round robin, the Cats opened the event Monday against Notre Dame College of Welland with a 5-2 win. Jake Rosa scored a hat-trick while Hunter Hutchins and Daniel Pignanelli added singles.
On Tuesday they played Medway High School from Arva, in Middlesex County. The Wildcats took the game 3-2, with goals from Jake Menard, Jake Cruikshank, and Hutchins. Later that same day, Villanova defeated Sir Oliver Mowat Collegiate, of Toronto, 2-0. Scoring for the Wildcats were Lucas Gignac and Quinn Fazekas.
Finishing first in their pool with a 3-0 record, Villanova had to play Holy Cross from Stittsville during Wednesday’s quarter-final round. Villanova’s goalie, Lucas Diluca, was absolutely stingy in net, posting a 1-0 shutout. The only goal of the game was scored by Rosa.
The Wildcats next met top-ranked St Mary’s College, of Sault Ste Marie, Thursday morning, for the semi-final. Over the first two periods, Villanova up built a 2-0 lead, with goals from Chris Francia and Jacob Deluca. St Mary’s attempted to mount a comeback in the third, but were only able to make up a single goal.
St Mary’s were relegated to meet St Aloysius Gonzaga, of Mississauga, in the bronze medal game, losing 3-2.
The other local team in the tournament, WECSSAA and SWOSSAA champions St Anne’s Saints, did not fare as well.
St Anne’s opened against St Mary’s and Jake Nimmo scored their only goal, as they dropped the game 2-1. Tuesday morning, the Saints faced Grand River from Kitchener. This time St Anne’s Blake Bain, Alec Gay, and Christian Luciani all scored in a 5-3 loss.
St Anne’s then finished off their tournament with a 3-3 tie against Michael Power/St Joseph School, of Etobicoke. Michael Power/St Joseph scored with a second remaining to deny the Saints a win in the tournament.
Stephane Crevier, Carter Corp, and Aidan Ryan all scored for St Anne’s.
Tournament convener John Talerico was pleased with the overall event.
“It all came together on the ice,” he said. “The parents from out of town are happy and we’re really happy with the final product.”
The last time a WECSSAA boys’ team won the top prize in Ontario high school hockey was in 1988 when it was won by the Riverside Rebels. The last boys’ hockey title, of any kind, for a WECSSAA team was won by the Essex Red Raiders in 2004 at the A/AA tier.