By Larry Moko
A 43-save performance by Grade 9 goaltender Megan Warrener lifted the Cardinal Newman girls’ high school hockey team to a 2-2 tie with the defending-champion Bishop Tonnos Titans at Gateway Ice Centre Monday.
With that result, the third-place Cardinals (2-2-1) stayed ahead of fourth-place Tonnos (1-2-1) in the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic Athletic Association standings.
Newman, which directed 12 shots at Titans netminder Sophia Grabstas, struck for the tying marker with four seconds remaining. Warrener was pulled in favour of an extra attacker at the time and Vanessa Upson took the wrist shot that deflected in off the goalie’s catching glove.
It was Upson’s second goal of the contest. She had opened the scoring early mid way through the third period on a backhander.
Julia Klepp and Emma Giordano accounted for the Tonnos goals.
“Megan is an outstanding goalie,” Newman coach Heather Mamony said. “She knows how to keep her cool under pressure. She has a positive outlook and really kept us in the game.”
A rep player for the Stoney Creek Sabres bantam AA’s, Warrener said: “I like to have a lot of shots.”
Coach Ignazio Fortino whose Titans have appeared in the last 11 consecutive HWCAA finals, agreed that Warrener was outstanding: “I have to give Newman a lot of credit,” he said. “They played really well. They’ve come a long way. It was a good game.”
Newman stretched its undefeated streak to three games – a success rate it hasn’t achieved in recent years.
“We struggled the last couple of seasons, winning just one game,” Mamony said. “This year is a huge improvement. We have new talent. They’re eager and positive. We have something to build on. I’m happy with this tie. We played a very competitive game.”
Mamony also praised the efforts of Upson – a shifty forward and, like Warrener, a Grade 9 student. “Vanessa has a high level of skill,” she said. “She’s a strong force on the team.”
As for the Titans, who have captured nine city titles in the past 11 years, Fortino believes the team still has talent and he expects them to “shine” come playoff time.
Prior to the playoffs, Fortino plans to be in South Korea to watch his daughter, Laura, play for Canada in the women’s Winter Olympics hockey tournament. She’s also a Bishop Tonnos graduate.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Fortino said of his upcoming trip. “It will be an eye-opening experience for me.”
The boys’ half of the doubleheader saw Tonnos get three goals by Luca Vespa and two by Mark Duarte en route to a 5-2 win over Newman (2-3). It was the Titans first victory after three losses.
Dillon Daigneault had one of the goals for the Cardinals.
In other HWCAA boys’ hockey action, the St. Thomas More Knights (4-1) stayed atop the standings with a 4-0 triumph over the St. Jean de Brebeuf Braves (1-2).
Elsewhere in girls’ hockey, first-place More improved its record to 4-0-1 with a 7-1 victory over Brebeuf (0-3).