Harris sparks Phoenix to NCAA AA title
Saint Francis Phoenix’s spark plug, Marcus Harris, jolted the school’s varsity boys hockey team to a 5-0 victory over the Lakeshore Catholic Gators Wednesday in the Niagara Catholic Athletic Association AA championship game at the Bill Burgoyne Arena.
“He brings a lot energy, he’s the engine that drives this team and if he stays focused, he can be the difference in us winning SOSSAA (Southern Ontario Secondary Schools Association) and medaling at OFSAA (Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations),” Saint Francis head coach Dino Germano said.
The Grade 12 student, who plays for the Niagara North Stars U18 AAA squad, scored twice for the Phoenix on a five-on-three power play late in the first period and then completed his hat trick with a breakaway goal in the second period.
It is not the first time the 17-year-old netted a hat trick at the high school level and he enjoys suiting up for the Phoenix.
“When I play here, it give me more confidence so when I get into a real (AAA) game, I feel really good. (Owen) Petrucci and I play here and Niagara North together and it really gets our chemistry going.”
The 5-foot-9, 155-pounder is proud to be described as the team’s spark plug.
‘“I just love to go. Go, go, go. I want to win and we all want to win OFSAA. I expect a lot from the boys.”
He agrees staying focused in an important part of his game.
“Sometimes I get a little off the rails but my boys dial me back in telling me let’s go and to settle down.”
He is hoping to play Tier 2 junior A hockey next year.
Wednesday’s NCAA final was decided in a 41-second span near the end of the first period. Saint Francis scored on two five-on-three power plays 31 seconds apart and then added another power play goal 10 seconds later for a 3-0 lead. The Phoenix would add single goals in each of the next two periods to conclude the scoring.
“In my opinion, there was some bad calls and the five-on-threes really didn’t help us,” Lakeshore head coach Steve Sim said. “It is what is it. I’m not pleased but overall we did well.”
Germano agrees that stretch decided the game.
“We have had a good power play all year. Once we got a comfortable lead, we just told them to play simple hockey, one guy in, one guy reading and reacting, the third guy high, and move the puck around.”
The Phoenix advanced to SOSSA with the victory.
“We just have to keep doing what we are doing, use our offensive skills and keep the puck out of our end,” Germano said of his team’s plan for SOSSA.
Harris had a few other suggestions on how to succeed at SOSSA.
‘We have to keep working hard and don’t take our foot off the gas. We can’t take any teams lightly.”
Saint Francis has an overall record of 15-1-4, including 2-1-4 in league play. The Phoenix won the Daryl Mahler Classic and the Gator Invitational.
“We are good up front, we have excellent goaltending and have excellent team unity,” Germano said.
It has been awhile since Saint Francis was at OFSAA but he feels his team has the ability to get there and play well.
Lakeshore defeated Saint Paul 2-1 in the semifinals after posting a 3-3-1 record in league play.
“All in all, we did pretty well but we had a lot of ups and downs with injuries and things like that,” Sim said. “We had a couple of players leave at the last minute to go play junior and we were dealing with a couple of outside coaches and the politics of hockey, but we have a good group and they have battled all year.”
Making it to the final was a challenge.
“It is ridiculous how close the NCAA is,” he said. “Every game is different and every team is so close. Whoever wins has a good chance to do well at OFSAA and SOSSA.”
PHOENIX 5 GATORS 0
Cat’s Caboose Player of the Game: Saint Francis’s Marcus Harris with a hat trick.
For the Saint Francis Phoenix: Harris 3; Trent Mooradian; Ryan Johnson. Shutout by John Rootes.
For the Lakeshore Catholic Gators: No scoring.
Game stats: Shots on goals: Saint Francis 21-8-14=43, Lakeshore 2-5-8=15, Penalty minutes: Saint Francis 18, Lakeshore 24. Power plays: Saint Francis 3-5, Lakeshore 0-2.
Up next: Saint Francis advances to the SOSSA AA championships Tuesday at Canada Games Park.