CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - There isn’t a high school hockey coach in Ohio history who has won more games than John Malloy. He’s closing in on 700 ... but it’s the next two, if they come this weekend at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, that will rank as high as any of 'em.
If he can do at Gilmour Academy what he did at Cleveland Heights back in the day ... bring home a state title ... he’ll only add to his legend.
But he has to get his Lancers past a modern-day dynasty, the four-time defending state champion St. Ignatius Wildcats.
“They’re a formidable team,” Malloy said following Tuesday’s practice. “Well-coached, well-disciplined, very talented, but, it’s one game. I always say, they might be a team that can beat you a lot over a 10-game period, but, get down to one game, with the type of kids we have and the goaltending we have, anything’s possible.”
The Lancers almost beat the Wildcats earlier this season, losing a tight 2-1 game. So let’s not make this another “Miracle on Ice”.
“I truly think we’re a good team,” Malloy said. "I truly think we’re good enough to beat them. It won’t shock me if we win. ‘Oh, how did we ever beat these guys’? We’ve had a really good year. We’ve played some very good competition.
And ... racked up 30 wins. They’re on the kind of run they used to dream about.
“I can’t believe it,” said senior defenseman Jake Howse. “It’s my third year on the team and we’re finally getting down to Columbus. It’s all we’ve ever wanted for this team. Every year we’ve been getting shut out, but this is our year, this is our time.”
Is it disappointing that they FINALLY make it to the high school Frozen Four, and most of their family and friends won’t be allowed in to watch 'em play?
Of course it is.
“Yeah, it’s disappointing,” Malloy said. “You know the kids have worked really hard, but, how are you gonna argue with the safety of kids? You don’t argue with that. That’s always first and foremost in anything that we do.”
Which is why they’re locked in on the job at hand. Doing what they do best. Grind.
“Hard work,” said senior defenseman Tony Iacobell. “We might not be the most talented team, but we always stress defense and hard work and one way or another it’ll pay off.”
They’re going to need that approach against the Wildcats, who just put 9 on the board against St. Ed’s (quick nats after Ignatius goal vs. Ed’s).
But again, thanks to Malloy’s defense, the Lancers held Ignatius to "2″ the last time they met.
Two more wins, and the Lancers make history. The first one will be the toughest.
“I’ve been in this situation before,” Malloy said. "Back when St. Ed’s was the predominant team and I was at Cleveland Heights and they had won a number of state championships.
“You go in, you do your job, and you take care of business.”