By Larry Moko
Even though he’s only in Grade 9, Luca Pinelli regularly leads the way as the first player to step on the ice for the St. John Henry Cardinals high school hockey team.
“It’s just a thing that I do,” Pinelli said. “I always go out first. It’s the same with the regular team I’m on (Toronto Junior Canadiens of the GTHL).
“I love the game and I’m proud to play it.”
A left winger, Pinelli also scored the first goal of the game Wednesday during Newman’s 4-2 loss to the Bishop Ryan Celtics at Valley Park Arena.
Pinelli’s older brothers – Anthony and Francesco – formerly played for Newman before getting drafted by the Ontario Hockey League’s Kitchener Rangers.
“I want to follow in their footsteps,” Pinelli said. “They are both great players. I look up to both of them.”
Newman coach Gerry Moretuzzo describes Pinelli as an “electric” player who plays with tenacity.
“I’m proud of his intensity and I’m proud of his emotional investment in playing high school hockey,” Moretuzzo said. “He plays beyond his age. He’s all in.”
Bishop Ryan coach Justin Cannon is impressed, too, by what he has seen of Pinelli in their two meetings this season.
“He’s a really good hockey player,” Cannon said. “Every time he was on the ice we knew something bad could happen. He’s very dangerous. But I thought our guys did a good job of keeping him in check.”
After Pinelli cashed in a rebound for the lone goal of the first period, Bishop Ryan skated to a 3-2 lead going into the third on markers by Billy Finlay, Carter McKnight and Nathan Krbavac.
“That was Carter’s first goal as a Bishop Ryan Celtic,” Cannon said. “It’s been two seasons and almost 60 games.”
Matthew Shulist then provided the insurance goal for BR on a rush with three minutes, three seconds left on the clock.
Daniel Vella had the other goal for Newman (2-4), which defeated the Celtics (2-4-1) in their earlier meeting this season, 3-1.
“The compete level was high and I thought we played well in all aspects of the game – penalty killing, power play, offence and defence,” Cannon said. “I thought the guys who stepped in did great. We had goals from our third, second and first lines. So it was a real team effort.”
Moretuzzo said the Cardinals lost focus in the second period.
“Then,” he said, “we had to climb out of a hole. We had to be a little more aggressive offensively and that’s when you get caught.”
Cannon said the Celtics in recent league and tournament starts have been carrying the play a lot more. “We’ve been playing more as a unit rather than as individuals. There’s been a better flow to our team. We’re digging harder and working harder. I think we’re started to see the results.”
In other action, the St. Jean de Brebeuf Braves defeated the first-place St. Mary Crusaders, 3-1.
Girls’ results in the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic league Wednesday saw St. Mary blank Brebeuf, 3-0, and Newman top Bishop Ryan, 5-3.
Source: Marnie Jadon