Team features mix of returning players and newcomers in quest to retain league title
The Bishop Ryan Celtics are all business as they begin their hunt for another Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic Athletic Association senior boys hockey championship.
“We won the championship last season. This is a new team, a new quest,” Bishop Ryan head coach Mike Kolic said. “Of course the kids are optimistic, but it is far too early to make any kind of predictions. The league is usually very balanced and we have a long way to go.”
The Celtics started their 2013-14 HWCAA run on Monday, losing to the St. Jean de Brébeuf Braves 4-2 at Inch Park Arena.
The team also took on the St. Thomas More Knights on Wednesday at Rosedale Arena. Results were unavailable at press deadline.
Bishop Ryan defeated the St. Mary Crusaders 3-2 in the championship last season.
Kolic said the Celtics were “ecstatic” to win the final.
“We lost several players from the year before and didn’t know what to expect. Bishop Ryan school spirit is amazing and our fans are tremendous,” he said. “The kids remember looking up into the stands and seeing their friends celebrate their successes. Their support during the championship game was unforgettable.”
Bishop Ryan beat the Bishop Tonnos Titans 4-2 in the semifinals last season.
The Celtics earned a bye in the quarter-finals after finishing first in the regular season. The team finished with a 10-1-1 record, its best record in recent memory.
“The key to our overall success was a balanced attack. Goals could come from anyone at any time,” Kolic said. “There were no weak links. The team also was excellent when it came to team defence.”
Kolic said Bishop Ryan is made up of old and new faces this season.
“We have three captains from last year, but we lost our goaltender, so someone will have to step up and pick up the slack. The loss of our goalie will have a big impact on our team, but we are confident that our new goalies will be able to perform in the big games,” he said. “We also lost some key defencemen, but we picked up some promising new players. Our team speed should be impressive.”
The Celtics have scored eight championships over the years.
“I think that our team has the potential to get back to the championship again. We have a lot of hard work ahead of ourselves,” Kolic said. “Our defencemen and goalies will have to perform extremely well if we are to return to the championship game. Competition will be stiff.”
Kolic said Bishop Ryan has enjoyed a “great deal of success” over the years, but the ultimate reward is to be able to play in and win a championship game in front of classmates and the rest of the school community.
“We will do all that we can to have the opportunity to enjoy this experience again,” he said.