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CBJ Cup goes berserk

What is one way to ensure that a CBJ Cup gets the maximum out of the two teams playing for the right to take home the hardware?

Have two schools make it to the final game for a second consecutive year whose home ice is also hosting the Cup, that’s how.

On Sunday afternoon, the CBJ Cup final saw a showdown between the No.1 seeded Saint Charles Cardinals and the No. 2 seeded Upper Arlington Golden Bears play for all the marbles and in the end, it was the Golden Bears outlasting their “neighbors” to take home the hardware, 3-2.

The two central Ohio high school hockey powerhouse programs share the rink at the OhioHealth Ice Haus located within the Nationwide Arena in downtown Columbus and because of that, the schools have developed a healthy rivalry with one another.

“We’re rink mates, our locker rooms are right next to each other (and) we see each other throughout the week at each others’ practices," said Upper Arlington head coach Hamish Baird. "And the hockey community is kind of small so a lot of these boys know each other growing up in the little leagues and that familiarity breeds a good rivalry. Plus we both have elite programs."

Not only was this the second year in a row the two schools played for the Cup but it was the third time in 11 days this season alone that they hit the ice against each other. They ended up splitting the outcomes with UA winning a 1-0 battle exactly one week before today’s game and St. Charles got the best of the Bears in an overtime thriller, 4-3, on Feb. 3.

Arlington captain and junior forward Max Robins compared the two teams to another bitter rivalry that most central Ohio residents are all too familiar with.

“The games are always heated (and) everyone’s giving their best. Kind of like Ohio State and Michigan,” he said. “Every time we play them, each team wants it. So the games are always fun to play and always a blast.”

Robins was one of the main cogs in Arlington’s wheel, scoring two goals, including the last one which was the game winner.

“He’s been a really good player for us recently,” said senior defenseman and fellow captain Whitty Tevonian. “He’s scored almost every single game in our past 10 or so (and) he’s really become a big part of our winning and our game.”

The Golden Bears struck first barely five minutes into the game when they broke out of their defensive zone after a scrum in the left corner. Sophomore forward Charlie Linzell raced up the near side, gained control of the puck and then flipped it to teammate Noah Domagalski who was waiting at center ice. Domagalski then sent it back to Linzell who set himself up on the right side of the goal and fired a slapshot into St. Charles goalie Grant Wolf’s shin pads that took a fortuitous ricochet in front of the net where UA junior forward Nolan Adams was bringing up the rear and finished it off with a wrist shot into the back of a wide-open net.

The second period, however, quickly turned around as the Cardinals capitalized when UA senior forward Joey Holland was called for a two-minute high sticking penalty. A mere nine seconds into the powerplay, SC junior defenseman Erich Schoettmer slipped a long-range slapshot past UA senior goalie Garrett Alderman to tie the game at one apiece with a little over 12 minutes to play.

Less than five minutes later, the Cardinals took a 2-1 lead after SC junior defenseman Tristan Fahs caught a rebound off Alderman's pads when shot attempts by senior forward Nate Polinksy and junior forward Brady Quinn were stoned by Alderman.

But the second period would not end without the Bears trying to even it up and that they would when Tevonian cleared the puck in his defensive zone and passed it to Robins who picked it up in their offensive zone in between the upper circle and the blue line, weaved it around SC junior defenseman Sam Mickey on a one-on-one and deked it into the 2-hole past Wolf’s sliding legs.

The third and final period would prove to be a dogfight between both teams as they continually fought for offensive control.

And that control would go to the Bears at the 12:17 mark when junior forward Carson Gresock won a faceoff in the near circle of their offensive zone, slapped the puck back to Robins who immediately crushed it with a one-timer into the 4-hole past Wolf for the eventual game-winner.

Baird said the way to winning the game wasn’t simple but told his guys that if they kept following their philosophy, it would pay off.

“Stay focused, think smart, simple plays, don’t try to do too much and just try to play our game and that’s exactly what they did,” he said.

The next set of games for each team is the Ohio High School Athletic Association tournament which begins Friday.

St. Charles is the No. 1 seed in the Columbus bracket and will take on the winner of No. 12 New Albany and No. 23 Cincinnati Sycamore on Saturday at 6 p.m. at the Chiller North in Lewis Center.

Upper Arlington is the No. 2 seed in the bracket and will play the winner of No. 18 Kettering Archbishop Alter and No. 19 Columbus Academy on Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m. at the Ice Haus.

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