Baron Cup be­longs to Men­tor

Car­di­nals dis­patch Rocky River to cap­ture crown for first time since 1995

The News Herald (Willoughby, OH) - - Sports - By Chris Lill­strung clill­[email protected]­ald.com @CLill­strungNH on Twit­ter

Men­tor prob­a­bly will only want to see Brook­lyn this of­ten in the near fu­ture if there’s one caveat at­tached:

The Car­di­nals get to be the ones to turn the lights out again.

Amid a week­end that tested the lim­its of per­se­ver­ance, Feb. 10 in the Baron Cup I fi­nal against Rocky River, Men­tor’s for­ti­tude was bound­less.

The high-fly­ing Car­di­nals jumped out to a quick two-goal lead and stead­ied them­selves when the seas got choppy for a ride to par­adise, a 7-2 win over the Pirates for Men­tor’s first Baron Cup cham­pi­onship since 1995.

“Our coach­ing staff is be­yond proud of this group and what they ac­com­plished to­day,” Car­di­nals coach Paul McKito said. “We made the point in our pregame talk, our first five-to-seven min­utes, short, high-tempo shifts. Get our legs back and make sure we had enough en­ergy to play on both sides of the puck and not make any mis­takes.

“We brought it. We couldn’t stop com­ing. The night be­fore, we played 85 min­utes of hockey. We came back and just (played) harder than ever.” – Men­tor cap­tain Evan McBride

“We get a cou­ple early. We get on the board first, which we men­tioned would be a huge feather in our cap if we score first and get some men­tal mo­men­tum so to speak, too, af­ter a long bat­tle last night phys­i­cally and men­tally against Hud­son. It was just what the doc­tor or­dered.”

They went five over­times to dis­patch Hud­son in a Baron Cup I semi­fi­nal Feb. 9. And if this Cup fi­nal was indica­tive, they would have will­ingly crossed the globe to fin­ish this quest.

“All I thought was we’re the team that de­served it the most,” Men­tor se­nior cap­tain and pro­gram sta­ple Evan McBride said of his thoughts as the clock struck zeroes. “We brought it. We couldn’t stop com­ing. The night be­fore, we played 85 min­utes of hockey. We came back and just (played) harder than ever. It felt like we were faster than them.

“Our team played so

good. Our goalie (Alex Toth) was on, and it’s just a good recipe to win a game.”

Evan McBride gave Men­tor (28-4-2) a dream start at 4:30 of the open­ing pe­riod, throw­ing a wris­ter from the right cir­cle that snuck low.

Then at 7:48, An­drew McBride de­liv­ered a tone­set­ting se­quence. The Pirates tele­graphed a zone break­out that the stand­out sopho­more winger pounced on and snapped a wris­ter for a 2-0 ad­van­tage.

Some­how, af­ter a marathon, Men­tor emerged fresh.

“An­drew was down low and threw it on the net,” McBride said of his opener. “It bounced out right in front of me, and I just took it from the slot and it went in low left corner. His toepad couldn’t get on it and it went right through.

“Ev­ery­one was tak­ing hot baths, lots of wa­ter, flu­ids. We just brought it to­day. I was a lit­tle ner­vous. We were all a lit­tle ner­vous. But that team I play with just brings it ev­ery time. It’s awe­some to play with them.”

The Pirates (17-10-4)

cut it to 2-1 at 9:09 of the first with Hay­den Weaver’s wris­ter top shelf.

But Jack Heller cleaned up a re­bound off a Jack Per­ish shot at 2:17 of the sec­ond, and Luke Jef­fery, the hero with the game-win­ning goal against Hud­son, re­turned the fa­vor at 7:50 for a 4-1 lead.

Danny As­mar briefly got it back to 4-2 for River at 10:30 with a wris­ter at the right bar.

But Jack O’Don­nell net­ted a key tally as a crasher with 1:12 to go be­fore in­ter­mis­sion with a banger at the right bar, and Jef­fery had a high­light-reel goal at 4:07 of the third that sti­fled any Pirates’ come­back hopes.

The ju­nior for­ward had a gor­geous deke into the zone to cre­ate space and slot­ted a look com­ing in for his 24th goal of the win­ter and a 6-2 lead.

Men­tor goal­tender Alex Toth, who was cred­ited with 64 saves against Hud­son, had an ef­fi­cient 27save out­ing against River. In stretches dur­ing which the Pirates were getting

good, deep looks in the zone, Toth had timely and qual­ity saves as the Car­di­nals found their prover­bial foot­ing.

Men­tor is the fifth NewsHer­ald cov­er­age area pro­gram to hoist mul­ti­ple Baron Cups, join­ing Univer­sity with eight and Eu­clid, May­field and Notre Dame-Cathe­dral Latin with two apiece.

As the score­board still read 7-2 with zeroes on the clock and a quiet fell over Brook­lyn, the Car­di­nals be­gan to pile their bags in the west corner be­fore they headed east.

It had been a gen­er­a­tion since Men­tor got to take the Baron Cup back with it. This gen­er­a­tion of Car­di­nals, which has re­de­fined the tra­jec­tory of the pro­gram the last two sea­sons af­ter some lean years, now knows what that’s like, too, af­ter a com­mend­able dis­play of for­ti­tude head­ing into the Kent Dis­trict.

“It’s con­fi­dence,” McBride said. “One-hun­dred per­cent con­fi­dence. That’s all. It’s go­ing to push us to go far­ther.”

TIM PHILLIS — FOR THE NEWS-HER­ALD

Men­tor’s Jack O’Don­nell cel­e­brates his sec­ond-pe­riod goal as Rocky River’s Hay­den Weaver re­acts Feb. 10 dur­ing the Baron Cup I fi­nal at Brook­lyn.

TIM PHILLIS — FOR THE NEWS-HER­ALD

Men­tor goal­tender Alex Toth stares down a shot from Rocky River’s Luke Witzi­greuter on Feb. 10 dur­ing the Baron Cup I fi­nal at Brook­lyn. Toth had 27 saves as the Car­di­nals won, 7-2, for their first Baron Cup since 1995.

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