Harris powers Phoenix into OFSAA quarter-finals
Saint Francis boys hockey coach Dino Germano had high praise for Marcus Harris at the beginning of March after the Grade 12 forward scored twice in a 5-0 victory over Lakeshore Catholic in the Niagara Catholic Athletic Association AA championship game.
“If he stays focused, he can be the difference in us winning SOSSA (Southern Ontario Secondary Schools Association) and medaling at OFSAA (Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations),” he said.
Harris is living up to that billing. He scored twice in a 6-0 win over Sir Winston Churchill in the SOSSA championship game, had two assists as the Phoenix opened the OFSAA championships in St. Catharines Tuesday morning with a 5-3 victory against the Lambton Lancers and then scored all four goals as Saint Francis clinched a berth in the quarter-finals Wednesday afternoon with a 4-1 victory over the Fort Frances Huskies.
“As long as he is disciplined, he is the engine that drives this train,” Germano said.
He has been reaping the rewards of having Harris on his roster all season.
“It is his will to win. That is what it comes down to. Some kids have it and some don’t. All of our guys have it but Marcus has it at another level. He brings energy, leadership and obviously the ability to put the puck in the net.”
The 17-year-old has had a number of four-goal games in his hockey career but this was the first one in two or three years.
“It was my linemates honestly,” he said. “Cole (Mambella) and Owen (Petrucci) played really good today. They knew I was hot so they got me the puck a lot.”
Mambella finished with three assists and Petrucci had two.
The trio has plenty of history together. All three are members of the Niagara North Stars U18 AAA squad. Petrucci and Harris are on the same line and Harris has played with Mambella at times.
“That connection is very important. It makes us really good out there,” Harris said. “For Niagara, we have a lot of pressure and out here we have less pressure. It is still good hockey but we can just pass and skate.”
He had a sense some good was coming versus Fort Frances.
“I knew before the game that I was going to have a good game. We had a good warmup and there were good vibes in the room and stuff.”
Harris has lots of confidence in his team.
“We want to win every time and all we want to do is win OFSAA. We can’t let teams get in the way.”
And they can’t get in their own way either.
“We need to stay out of the penalty box. It is getting bad,” he said. “These team want to get in fights and stuff and we have to stay away from that.”
Germano liked how his second-seeded squad played versus Fort Frances.
“Right from the get go, they were ready. They came prepared and they were defensively sound,” he said. “We had a lot of penalties and we have to clean that up but other than that, that might have been one of our better games of the year.”
Scoring for Fort Frances was Klyde Laplante.
The win clinched a berth in the quarter-finals for the Phoenix. Saint Francis will close out pool play with a 10:15 a.m. game Wednesday against winless Roland Michener, the tournament’s eighth seed.
“That clinches a quarter-final spot but we want to finish first so that we get the better seed and the better chance of moving on to the final four,” Germano said.
PHOENIX 5 LANCERS 3
Saint Francis opened OFSAA play Tuesday morning with a 5-3 victory over the 13th-seeded Lambton Lancers.
Leading the offence for the Phoenix were: Zach Gillesby with a goal and an assist; Harris with two helpers, Matt Testa, Owen Petrucci, Jordan Marconi and Reese Gordon with goals; and, Carter Mooradian, Cole Mambella and Ryan Johnson with assists.
Miller Mailloux, Joey Hayter and Brayden Kominik replied for Lambton.
“We started off really slow then once we got our legs going and scored a couple of power play goals, they settled in and scored two goals in the third period to win 5-3,” Germano said. “All year we have been good on the power play and finishing strong.”
He attributed the slow start to an obvious reason.
“It was more of us not being on the ice over the March Break.”