By Larry Moko
Connor Koropatnicki made a positive impact in his debut appearance of the season for the Bishop Ryan Celtics high school hockey team.
The Grade 10 forward, who had been sidelined with a dislocated shoulder while playing for the Hamilton AAA Huskies, scored two goals to help the Celtics defeat the St. Thomas More Knights, 3-1, at Chedoke Twin-Pad Arena Monday.
The win snapped a six-game losing streak for Bishop Ryan – two Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic league contests and four from tournament action.
“It was Connor’s first game for us this year,” Celtics coach Justin Cannon said. “It was clearly evident what a boost he gave to our roster. We missed him a lot. He’s vital.”
After More’s Matthew Rosser wheeled out from the corner to fire in a first-period goal from the high slot, Koropatnicki tied the score in the second. It was during a Celtics power play on a solo rush which started behind the Celtics blue line.
“The whole bench went crazy,” Cannon said of the second-year Celtic’s tying marker.
The Celtics got the winner mid way through the third period when Anthony Bertrand converted a flipped crossing pass on the rush from teammate Jacob Goffredo.
Koropatnicki then capped the scoring. He stole the puck and slid it into the empty net with 13 seconds remaining. Said Cannon: “Connor has a ton of speed, great hands and great vision. And he understands the game very well. Getting him in the game early with a goal boosted his confidence.”
“This was a big win,” Koropatnicki said. “It felt really good. It was our first and those guys are No. 1 (More came in with a 2-0 record and in first place).
“We played a good, hard game. We flowed well together.”
More fell out of top spot in the standings Monday when the St. Mary Crusaders (2-0-1) defeated the St. John Henry Newman Cardinals, 5-4.
“Full credit to Bishop Ryan,” More coach Jeff Toole said. “They certainly played well enough to win.”
Toole was disappointed with More’s power plays and penalty kills, but he thinks they will improve with more repetition at practice. He points out that seven members of More’s championship football teams recently put on the blades.
“We like our group,” the More coach said. “We tell our guys that it’s a long season. We finished in first place last year but got knocked out.
“It’s early. Hopefully, we’ll learn from this loss. At times we’ve played entitled. We kind of thought the puck was going to come to us and that we didn’t really have to work for it.
“There seems to be a lot of parity in the league.”
In HWCAA girls’ hockey, Bishop Ryan downed More, 7-3, and Newman (3-0) took over sole possession of first place with a 3-1 victory over St. Mary.
Source: Marnie Jadon