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Loyola Gold goes 3-2 in Canada tourney

By Gary Larsen, 09/24/22, 11:00AM CDT


For the first time in three years, Loyola Gold boarded a bus recently for a 10-hour road trip to Canada, to play in an annual tournament against some top Canadian prep school competition.

Games took place Sept. 16-18 at Ridley College in Ontario, Canada, located in the town of St. Catherine. St. Catherine is situated on the southern shore of Lake Ontario, just a 15-minute drive north from Niagara Falls and straight south across the lake from Toronto.

The Ramblers had to skip the tournament the past two seasons due to the pandemic. The 10-hour bus ride gave a new team a chance to bond.

“It was a lot of karaoke,” Loyola goalie Bradin Hanie said. “It was a lot of fun.”

None of the current Ramblers had previously played in the annual tournament. A weekend of tough competition against top-shelf Canadian prep school programs saw Loyola go 3-2 and reach the title game of the tournament.

Three years ago, Loyola was dominated at the tournament in its game against host Ridley Prep — by a score of 8-0 per Loyola coach Scott Ciraulo’s recollection.

After winning 2-0 over St. Michael’s of Toronto to open this year’s tournament on Friday, Sept. 16, Loyola again took on Ridley in its second game of the tourney.

This time, the Ramblers lost 4-3, a far cry from the one-sided loss they suffered previously to Ridley.

“I think that’s kind of a testament to how much we’ve advanced in the last three or four years,” Ciraulo said. “They probably had a little more skill than us but our guys worked really hard in that game. We went down 4-1, then scored on the power play and kept playing hard.”

“We never gave up in that game,” Hanie said. “We went down and we came back in a close game. Some teams might have given up and thought they were out of the game, but we came back.”

In Loyola’s opening 2-0 win over St. Michael’s, “they kind of sat back on the forecheck and we were able to move the puck up ice,” Ciraulo said. “We actually out-shot them. They were really big, strong, and an older team but we may have had an edge in speed. It was a 1-0 game and we got an empty-netter at the end.”

Loyola played Illinois’ own Lake Forest Academy twice over the weekend. After losing 4-1 to Lake Forest Academy on Saturday, the Ramblers won a revenge match via 1-0 tournament semifinal shutout over the Caxies on Sunday.

“Lake Forest Academy has a lot of talent and a ton of depth,” Ciraulo said. “It was a tough matchup and I don’t think our kids were used to the speed in the first game. They really beat us in transition and we had to adjust to it.

“In the second game we adjusted our forecheck and got some really good goaltending out of (Hanie). Our defense and forwards also played really well. It took us until the last minute of the game but we got the goal and fortunately, that’s all we needed.”

It was forward Cole Joubert who scored the game-winner on a short-side rebound against Lake Forest Academy, on assists from defensemen Mack Klein and Aidan Fischer.

With last year’s senior core of forwards Jack Gustafson, Garrett Grady, and Ryan Boersma now graduated, Loyola will aim to find scoring from a wide stable of players this season. Forwards Mikey Baker, Charlie Baine, and Zach Waltman will figure prominently in a field of forwards this season.

“Last year most of our offense came from our front end but this year I think we’ll be generating more from the back end,” Ciraulo said. “We have a few guys with a lot of skill and I was really impressed with how our forwards worked.”

Hanie was in net for all five games and three shutouts in Canada, including a 3-0 win over Acadamie-St. Louis of Quebec.

“We knew Bradin Hanie was good last year and he really played well in those shutouts,” Ciraulo said.

Hanie feels like a slightly different man in net in his senior year, with a bit of added confidence to his game.

“In one game, they dumped the puck in and I stopped it and shot it down the ice to Liam Finnegan at the other blue line, and he had a good shot,” Hanie said. “There’s no way I would have done that last year.”

Loyola played the tournament without veteran defenseman and last year’s team captain, Ryan Cowen, who’s recovering from injury. The Ramblers were also without goalie Edward Powers, who’s currently playing on Loyola’s golf team, and forward Baker, who’s playing on Loyola’s football team.

“We had three shutouts without Ryan Cowen and only two returning defensemen,” Ciraulo said. “So I was impressed with our ‘D’ and again, our forwards really worked hard for us.”

Unfortunately, the tournament came to an abrupt ending, with Loyola poised to play in the title game after its semifinal win over Lake Forest Academy. As the Ramblers were in the handshake line, the rink’s Zamboni was idling on the ice and began dripping boiling water, which burned a puck-sized hole clean through the ice.

Facing a long delay before Sunday’s second semifinal could even be played, the teams decided to cut the tournament short.

“Coach DJ (LaVarre) just told us he had good news and bad news,” Hanie said. “The good news was we were co-champions and the bad news was we couldn’t play.

“We were disappointed but It was definitely a good tournament and a good challenge. It showed that our team can compete with some of the best teams.”

With another formidable season of SHL competition poised to begin, will this year’s team meet the Gold standard?

“I think we’re a hard-working team, we have a lot of skilled players, and I don’t see why not,” Hanie said. “Our first line looks great, we’ve got a lot of triple-A players, and I think our defense will put in a lot of offensive power, too. So I’m not worried.”