Of course, there is no competition.
But if there was one News-Herald coverage area team with the wildest holiday hockey story in 2022, it was undoubtedly college.
It included blizzards, burst pipes, a return to old springboards, and a third season comeback to top it all off — it also bridged Christmas.
The USA kicked off the Brother James Memorial Tournament in Gilmour on December 28 with a strong showing after a 2-1 come-from-behind victory over Sylvania Northview. The preppers took the final margin by taking a goal from sophomore rider his Vegan with his 33 seconds remaining.
University vs. Sylvania Northview Hockey: Ryder Vegan’s Goal Helps USA Win 2-1
The way the preppers got to that point definitely played a part in that post-game thrill.
In a way, it capped the wild six-day span.
It all started on December 23rd.
As the Blizzard, for all intents and purposes, the United States shut down Northeast Ohio was one of the few exceptions to successfully meet the Great Lakes Hockey League and the Walsh Jesuits at the Cleveland Heights pavilion.
With wind chills nearing 30 degrees and the first local blizzard warning in a decade, if you’re wondering “How?!”, listen to preppers coach Andy Guerrow.
“I called[coach]Pete Carreli to Walsh and said, ‘What do you guys think? You guys are running farther than us,'” Guerrow said. “He said, ‘I’m a playboy. Let’s do it.'” Changing schedules is never easy. Just to find a schedule and ice time. So we called both athletic departments. did.
“I was like, ‘Okay, let’s see.'” We’re Cleveland hockey people, and we want to play.”
US won 3-0 with first period goals from Kellen McGarry and Samonte Martin and a third from Sam Wade.
Given the hassle just before Christmas, that would have been enough.
From there it got even more chaotic.
The home rink of the United States, Pavilion, has informed patrons that it will unexpectedly close the week after Christmas after historically frigid conditions followed by a burst pipe in need of maintenance.
The move effectively canceled the annual Heights Holiday tournament, which was attended by fellow News-Herald coverage area members Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin. Other participating schools were offered the option by Heights to try to stage the tournament later in the season, schedules permitting.
With the pavilion closed, the preppers had nowhere to practice before Brother James started.
So Gerow had to rely on the old trusty CE Orr Arena.
“We went to Euclid,” said Geraud. “During the pandemic, when Cleveland Heights was closed, we used it as a practice rink. We played almost everywhere in the city. I spent two hours on the afternoon of December 27th and was able to shake off some of the holiday rust.”
In the early 2000s, CE Orr served as the US home rink during the GCHSHL Red North.
So when the vegan quick list star found the back of the net on Dec. 21, the preppers had good reason to stay buoyant.
“In the end, I was only able to attend one practice session with Euclid,” says Beegun. “And it was OK practice. But it didn’t affect us (against Northview). We came out like any other game and were ready to play. We haven’t been on the ice for a while, but that hasn’t changed.It’s the way we play as a team.We just played together and won.”