Neil McNeil senior boys hockey team wins city championship, looks forward to returning to OFSAA in defence of provincial crown

The Neil McNeil Catholic High School senior boys hockey team recently won the Toronto District Catholic (Colleges) Athletic Association city championship. Photo: Submitted.


The Neil McNeil Catholic High School Maroons senior boys hockey team won the Toronto District Catholic (Colleges) Athletic Association (TDCAA) championship with a 3-2 victory over Michael Power Catholic High School at the Ford Performance Centre in Etobicoke on Friday, March 3.

The Maroons finished with a 7-1 record in the regular season in league play. Winning the city crown qualified Neil McNeil for the first OFSAA hockey championship tournament since 2019 (cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic for the last three years). The Maroons are the defending OFSAA champs, having won the title in Barrie in 2019.

The win over Michael Power was also the second TDCAA title for Neil McNeil this decade as the team took the championship in early 2020 as well but was unable to defend their crown from the previous season at OFSAA since that tournament was cancelled due to COVID-19.

Neil McNeil goals in the March 3 TDCAA championship game were scored by Connor Irwin, Brandon Gill, Fin Donnelly. A local player from the Ted Reeve Hockey Association, Donnelly’s marker was the game-winning goal.

Goaltender Nate Gillis stood strong between the pipes to record the win for the Maroons.

Some key players that led the Maroons to success this season were offensive threats such as team captain Gill, who leads the team with 17 goals and 12 assists, and playmaker centre Dylan Coyle with five goals and 17 assists.

Connor Irwin, with his speed and physicality; Ethan Nobes, with his versatility and high hockey IQ; and the defensive group of Louie Mele and Garrett Nystrom were other key players for the Maroons this season, said coach Eric Naranowicz in a note to Beach Metro Community News.

Their strong play was backed by goalie Gillis who is also one of the team leaders.

“Gillis possesses the size and strength to restore confidence in the rest of the team especially in huge pressure situations,” said Naranowicz. “Gillis is a strong leader and while a goalie having a letter on their jersey is rare, he has proved to be a core leader on the team.:

The coach said the depth of the Maroons roster is one the team’s greatest assets.

“The senior Maroons this year are incredibly deep with the entire team, from top to bottom, is filled with high level hockey talent and character.” said Naranowicz.

He said the Neil McNeil players are looking forward to facing the top teams in the province at this year’s OFSAA AAA championship tournament which takes place in Windsor from March 21 to 23. The AAA level is the highest for OFSAA and is for teams from schools that have a student population of more than 950.

“As competitive hockey players, I think, the one thing you want is to see just how good you are and to prove that you are the best. There will be other very high-level hockey teams from all over the province at this event, which excites us as a group to have earned a rite to play in such an environment,” said Naranowicz of OFSAA.

“The senior Maroons want to repeat as the province’s best in order to bring pride to the school, its alumni, and its community.”

Members of the Neil McNeil senior boys hockey team are Brandon Gill (C), Dylan Coyle (A), Ethan Nobes (A), Garrett Nystrom (A), Nate Gillis (A), Connor Irwin, Jesse Miller, Jacob Owsicki, Nate Dugwell, Lucas Codinera, Romeo Lini, William Pancharovski, Finn Donnelly , John Moncada, Evan Vukicevich, Louie Mele, Carter Seto, William Millar, Ryan Scott, Russell Mackrell and Rohan Soreng.

Coaches are Eric Naranowicz and Peter Ranson.

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