The last time Bowling Green won a district high school hockey championship, Brock Powers was a 6-year-old cheering for the Bobcats.
Friday night, the BG senior will have a chance to earn his own district title.
The Bobcats, 26-5-2 overall and ranked fifth in the state, play top-ranked Toledo St. Francis (35-1) for the district championship at Sylvania Tam-O-Shanter. Faceoff is at 7.
The BG-St. Francis winner faces No. 2 Cleveland St. Ignatius or No. 4 Lakewood St. Edward or Parma Padua in a state semifinal March 10 in a 7 p.m. faceoff at Nationwide Arena in Columbus.
Wednesday’s district final between St. Edward and Padua was postponed after two periods due to an ammonia leak at the Brooklyn Athletic Complex. The Eagles lead 3-0, and play will resume tonight at 6.
“It would be great to get to state and get Bobcat hockey back on the map, like it was in the old days, when we were in the Final Four almost every year,” said Powers, whose dad, Eddie, is his 27th season as an assistant coach with the Bobcats.
Eddie Powers and head coach Dan DeWitt, who also has a son on the team this season, have led BG to four state championships and 13 state Final Fours. But the Bobcats haven’t skated in their sport’s showcase event since 2004, the last time they played in a district final.
The Bobcats have played in the state semifinals 20 times, including 10 straight seasons, starting in 1995. BG’s last state championship on the ice was won in 1998, although it won a paper title in 1999 when St. John’s had to forfeit its championship for using an illegal player in the title game.
“Winning the district title and getting to state, that’s what the kids are in it for,” said Dan DeWitt, who is in his 27th season as BG’s head coach. He posted the 500th victory of his career earlier this season.
“We’re put ourselves in this position for the first time in a long time,” coach DeWitt added. “We just have to take care of things this week.”
Dan DeWitt said the Bobcats have played consistently well this season. They’re 18-3 in their last 21 games, two of the losses coming to St. Francis. The Knights won twice in Northwest Hockey Conference play, 4-2 on Jan. 8 at BG and 9-0 on Feb. 12 at Tam-O-Shanter.
But BG won the first meeting against St. Francis Dec. 28, posting a 3-2 overtime victory in the championship game of a holiday tournament at the Ice Arena.
“When we beat St. Francis, we knew we could beat any team in the state,” Brock Powers said. “Those games were a good learning curve for us. We learned a lot in those games, but we’re moving forward now and concentrating on Friday’s game. That’s the only game that matters.”
The Bobcats also finished 5-2-1 for second place in the Northwest Hockey Conference Red Division.
“During the offseason workouts, the preseason practices, we knew we had a chance to be better than maybe what people thought,” Brock Powers said. “We knew our skill level was better, and we worked hard to improve. We knew we were making steps in the right direction.”
St. Francis has been dominant all season, outscoring its opponents by a 331-24 margin. The Knights have won 20 straight games and earned the Red Division championship with an 8-0 record. They have talent and depth at all three positions, but their biggest strength is their speed and skill.
“We have to come out and play with a lot of energy, and play the game at our pace and our tempo,” coach DeWitt said. “If we’re playing with good energy, everything else will fall into place. We’ve told the kids to prepare as well as we can, let’s play to our potential and whatever happens, happens.”
The Bobcats, too, have played well this season. They’re scoring 5.09 goals per game and allowing just 2.15 gpg.
Senior forward Grant DeWitt leads BG with 63 points, including a team-best 35 goals.
Also for BG, junior forward Adam Furnas has 28 goals and 25 assists, and sophomore forward Logan Bergeron has 24 goals and 20 assists. On defense, senior Clark Mayberry has two goals, 28 assists and a team-best on-ice rating of plus-45.
In addition, junior goalie Brett Rich has a 2.27 goals-against average and a .907 save percentage in 27 games, the power play is scoring at 37.3 percent and the penalty killing is at 84.8 percent.
“We’re playing with confidence, and we’re healthy,” said Brock Powers, a forward, who has 13 goals and 19 assists.
Grant DeWitt was a first-team Red Division selection, while Furnas and Mayberry were named to the second-team. Rich, Bergeron, Brock Powers and senior forward Michael Schilling were honorable mention. Shilling has 17 goals and 22 assists.
Dan DeWitt was the co-coach of the year, sharing the honor with St. Francis’ Chris Varga.
The other state semifinal March 10 matches No. 3 Hunting Valley University School or No. 10 Shaker Heights against No. 6 Dublin Coffman or No. 8 Upper Arlington at 4 p.m.
The state championship game is March 12 at 2 p.m.