16 high school hockey teams from across the state descended on Fort Wayne this weekend for the annual Summit City Crossover showcase. Fort Wayne teams fared well with none of the four local teams finishing the weekend with a record below .500, but ties were prominent throughout the three day showcase.
For those unfamiliar with high school hockey in Indiana, crossover games is just a different term for non-conference games given hockey’s status as a club sport in the state. Each team is required to play a certain number each season to be eligible for the state tournament, and similar criteria applies to players’ eligibility for the tournament. Teams are free to schedule crossover games on their own but a big portion of their crossover games (for most teams) come from the showcase weekends like this that take place across the state. As far as I know there are still three of those and they are hosted as follows: Fort Wayne in November, South Bend in December, and Fishers/Carmel in January. These weekends are important for deciding a team’s state classification, especially in Fort Wayne since the league went from six teams to four teams starting in the 2019-20 season. To simplify that point, its just a good opportunity to see how our teams stack up against other teams across Indiana. This particular weekend afforded each team four games and we’ll go over how each team fared, with some input on what I saw/heard in regards to this weekend, and at the end I’ll give my predictions for the league games this Wednesday as we start the second rotation of games. In the order of the league standings…
Every team’s schedule this weekend revolves around anticipated classification for the State Tournament this year and as a team that should land in 3 or 4A Carroll played teams that should also sit around that bubble. On Friday night that meant a date with the Adams Eagles. Despite the game being tied going into the third it doesn’t appear to have been an impressive performance from the team. Shots on goal entering the third were 27-14 so Luke Vanantwerp was keeping them in it. However he could only manage that for so long and Adams broke through for three goals in the third to Carroll’s one, ending in a 6-4 Carroll loss. After sleeping on the loss Carroll took on the Bloomington Blades in their first game Saturday and walked away with a 3-3 tie following chaotic final few minutes. This was one of the games I was able to watch and Carroll was in control for a good portion of the third period and as the game approached the final few minutes it was knotted up at two. With 2:25 to play Brody Burge broke through with what seemed to be the game winner, but that excitement was short lived as right off the faceoff after the goal Bloomington was able to get the goal right back. That wasn’t the end of it though as Burge had not one, but two breakaways coming down the right wing with a chance to put Carroll back in front but he was stopped each time by Blades goaltender Max Shuler, who hung on for the tie.
Carroll played potentially their best opponent of the weekend on Saturday night. That team would be Zionsville, who was leading Culver A 2-0 on Friday night before issues at the rink forced that game to a premature end. Carroll put in a much improved performance from the last night and a big part of that was the three point game from Burge and 36 saves from Carson Carteaux. After a goal from Dylan Braun put them up 4-0 late in the second period, there was no looking back for Carroll. Despite giving a goal back before the end of the second, Braun added a second goal at 3:39 of the third period and Burge added the exclamation point on the 6-1 win, bringing their weekend record to 1-1-1 with a matchup with Brebeuf still to come on Sunday. That proved to be an easy one for Carroll as they only gave up 13 shots in an 8-0 rout. Gnau and Burge each had four point games. Burge scored the opening goal and assisted on three others while Gnau scored a natural hat trick to go along with an assist on the eighth goal. That capped off a good weekend for Gnau who scored in every game except the one against Adams.
Fort Wayne Vipers (3-1)
The Vipers also played their first game on Friday night and took on a high quality team in Penn Gold. Darcy Koch started the scoring but that was all the offense Fort Wayne could muster as Penn scored the next four goals unanswered, including one into an empty net at the end. That loss would be the lone blemish for the Vipers and their streak of wins started with a 7-0 drubbing of Brebeuf. The Vipers tallied 52 shots on goal, allowing just nine shots, giving new goaltender Kamryn Clark his first high school win in shutout fashion. Another highlight of that game was a hat trick for Koch. He scored the lone goal of the first period and the first goal of the second before ceding the stage for the next two goals, although he assisted on Jackson Bertels’ goal. Koch completed the hat trick in the third period, the first of three Viper goals that period.
The Vipers last two games of the weekend were more impressive than their win over a clearly inferior team. Saturday night they took on Bloomington (at an absurd start time of 10:10) who was coming off their tie with Carroll in the early afternoon. The first period played out dead even in terms of shots on goal but the Blades were able to push one past Clark, playing his second game of the day. Bloomington scored the next goal as well and led 2-0 5:12 into the second period. From there it was all Bertels. He scored the next three goals for a natural hat trick which vaulted the Vipers into the lead. Robert Gross would tack on the fourth goal to finish off the 4-1 win. Zionsville awaited on Sunday afternoon and Koch yet again led the way with two goals, the second one being a certified beauty where he dangled at least two Eagles in the slot before scoring. Christian Brown completed the scoring with a shot from the point and a 3-0 Vipers win to bring their weekend record to 3-1, best among the Fort Wayne teams.
Coming off their win over Homestead last Wednesday Leo was set to take on South Stars on Saturday morning. Xander Mulholland was in net once again for the Lions and put in a stellar 41 save performance but it wasn’t enough as Leo dropped their weekend opener 2-1. South Stars scored the first goal of the game and led 1-0 after one. Dylan Davis found the equalizer 1:07 into the second period but Dean O’Connor got the goal right back for the visitors. Try as they might, Leo just couldn’t find another goal and were outshot 17-4 in the third period. Their second game of the day pitted them against the Columbus Icemen and the Lions yet again faced a deficit early in the game. Columbus was leading 2-0 less than five minutes in to the game. After that Leo was able to get up to speed and Colton Calhoun was able to cut the lead down to one with 5:37 left in the first period, with assists going to Colin Robison and Davis. In the second period Columbus led the way with 16 shots to just four for Leo but Andrew Baumert was able to keep the puck out of the Leo net, leaving the one goal deficit in tact for the final 15 minutes. From there Calhoun, Robison, and Davis connected again, this time with Davis being the beneficiary as he scored on the power play to tie the game. The last 11:58 of the game came and went without any more goals, finishing in a 2-2 tie.
Sunday morning was another bright and early one for Leo but it was assuredly more worth it as it provided the first win of the weekend. Taking on Westfield, Robison continued his solid weekend and found the back of the net twice. On the first goal it was Davis and Calhoun yet again working with the Freshmen to convert on the power play at 6:15 of the second period. The Lions would add two more goals in the third period, one from Alex Hendricks and another power play goal for Robison, en route to a 3-0 win. Baumert made 23 saves in the shutout. Leo would close out their weekend with HSE-B and as expected took care of business with a 5-0 win, individual stats for the game weren’t available to us at the time of publishing.
This weekend offered Homestead a chance to just get more game reps which was probably more important to them at this point than some of the other teams in Fort Wayne that have played plenty of crossovers already. Of course another important part of that is that the reps were against teams around their level, if not below which allows the Spartans to get some positive vibes going and build confidence. That started with a dead even game against Columbus on Saturday. Shots on goal were tied at 18 per side total, and both goaltenders made the same number of saves in each period. Columbus scored first but Drew Brimner scored the lone goal for Homestead in the second period, leading to the tie. In their evening game it was another tie for Homestead, this time against South Stars. Homestead surrendered the game’s opening goal just 1:44 in to the first period. However, the Spartans battled back to take the first period lead with two late goals. Gavin Elkins scored an unassisted power play goal, leaving 1:02 on the clock. Then with just :25 seconds before the end of the period Andrew Litwinko put Homestead out in front. The second period didn’t go Homestead’s way though as South Stars scored the only two goals of the period to take back the lead. Elkins tied it up again 11 seconds after the puck dropped on the third period but South Stars didn’t give up, taking another one goal lead with 5:42 remaining. A late power play again offered Homestead the chance to tie the game, reminiscent of Wednesday’s loss to Leo. This time around they were able to execute with the tying goal being delivered by Mason Gutmann as the game ended in a 4-4 tie.
Sunday morning served up HSE-B and after giving up the first goal Homestead took care of business. Brimner scored late in the first to tie the game but there were no goals scored in the second and the third period started knotted at one. Goals from Litwinko and Tyler Isenbarger in the first five minutes gave Homestead the cushion they needed and second goals from both Litwinko and Brimner in the last three minutes solidified the 5-1 win. Connor Gould stopped 25/26 shots and Homestead fired 45 pucks on goal as a team. A 6-1 win over Westfield brought their weekend record to 2-0-2, like the Leo vs HSE-B game individual stats were not available at the time of publishing.
Week 4 Predictions
Last Week: 1-1
This Year: 5-1
Perfect Scores (Correct Winner and Score): 1/6
Vipers 3 Leo 2
I was very tempted to go with Leo again but I’m going to hold off. The Vipers SHOULD come out fast in this one trying to avenge their week one loss. They averaged 4.5 goals over the weekend while only giving up three combined across the four games. Leo on the other hand only mustered three per game against lesser quality opponents than what the Vipers dealt with. Of course I still won’t be surprised if Leo wins.
Carroll 6 Homestead 1
Doesn’t sound like the week Carroll was hoping for last week but Saturday night was a high quality win. Homestead still has plenty of room to grow but in theory they should be in a better spot for the second go around than the first. Combine those two things and I still think this one is going to be a similar story to the first game between them.