By Adam Baum, Cincinnati.com
St. Xavier High School’s hockey team will get to hang a new banner after winning the Southwest Ohio High School Hockey League Red Division regular season championship.
After a 1-1 tie with Elder back on Dec. 27, the Bombers rattled off five straight conference wins, culminating with a 3-1 win over Elder on Jan. 28 and a 5-1 win over Troy on Jan. 29 that secured it.
It’s the first conference title for the Bombers since 2013 and marks the fifth title in program history.
“It was quite the battle against Elder,” said St. Xavier coach Kevin Taylor. “It was a tough game, close. It really lifted the spirits of the boys.
“We had to beat Elder to stay ahead of them in points, but the game against Troy was actually the one that clinched it. We had to beat them both.”
Down the stretch, the Bombers outscored their last five conference opponents by a combined 28-5.
Taylor said he told his team after beating Troy, “I wanted them to know that this was the result of a season of hardworking. We overcame a lot of obstacles, with the (Cincinnati) Gardens going down, 6 a.m. practices, key injuries. This was really a testament to their commitment and their hard work.”
Taylor said it’s truly been a team effort, led by senior co-captains Roppe Ketola and Jacob Konerman, as well as junior John Driscoll and freshman Noah Reidy. Although, the Bombers lost Reidy, one of their leading scorers, to a season-ending injury.
“He’s definitely one of our better players and an asset to the team,” Taylor said of Reidy. “Missing him definitely put a whole in our lines. But, we brought up a JV a player, Billy Johnson, and he played well. We brought him in for the (Troy) game and he ended up scoring his first varsity goal.”
Junior defenseman Tyler Dellerman has been reliable and serviceable.
“Tyler scored the winning goal in the Elder game,” said Taylor. “A beautiful point shot, bar down, just a great goal. He’s been solid all season long. A very reliable defenseman.”
Senior Michael Feldcamp’s had to work his way into a position and ice time, something Taylor said he’s earned every step of the way.
“Kind of an interesting story cause Michael started off in the reserve program four years ago,” Taylor said. “Then, he worked his way up to JV last year, I watched him at the tryouts and thought this is a piece I can use on varsity this year. He’s turned out to be fantastic.”
The Bombers have the SWOHSHL championship tournament Feb. 11-12, then the statewide playoffs begin. Taylor said St. X will find out its seeding for the postseason on Feb. 8.