By SHANNON DOVE
SYLVANIA — Top-seeded Toledo St. Francis peppered Findlay with 35 shots on goal Friday and, for the most part, Trojans’ goalkeeper Storm Woodward was up to the task.
Woodward stopped 30 shots in a 5-0 loss to St. Francis in a district semifinal Friday at Tam-O-Shanter Arena.
St. Francis (24-6-1 overall) advances to the district final at 7 p.m. next Friday at Tam-O-Shanter and will face the winner of tonight’s semifinal between No. 2 seed Sylvania Northview and No. 3 Toledo St. John’s. Findlay, seeded fourth in the district, finishes its season with a 15-12-3 mark.
“I thought we played pretty strong,” Knights coach Chris Varga said. “We played very well in our defensive zone; we shut them out. Coming into this game, I never thought that would ever happen. That team, they roll pretty good.
“I saw they were trying to slow the game down and it gave our guys a quick breather here and there, so I think that worked better for us.”
The game was a penalty-ridden affair. Just 4:25 of the second period was played at even strength and 59 seconds of that was played four-on-four. The Trojans killed off a five-minute major — 3:05 of which was played five-on-three.
Woodward stopped seven shots with his team down two players and 11 total during the major penalty.
“He played the game of his life there,” Findlay coach Craig Perry said. “He was doing awesome. Can’t complain about that end.
“Really, we didn’t get any offense going at all, and they have probably the top player in the state back there, Timmy Organ, and then (Mitchell) Digby’s no slouch either playing with him. We’ve got to go when those two are off the ice, but we really didn’t get much presence down there.”
The Knights’ power play finally got one past Woodward at 11:11 of the second when Jay Ostrander buried a rebound off Digby’s initial shot. Matthew Snyder also earned an assist on the play.
Snyder scored just 42 seconds later, beating Woodward on the far side from the left slot. Nicholas Coward set up the goal, which extended the Knights lead to 4-0.
“It slows the game down and with that being said, you’ve got a whole different strategy,” Varga said of the second period penalties. “You’re more worried about trying to score or defending. I tip my hat to them; they did an unbelievable job in that five-minute kill, the major penalty. Then they got another penalty to make it five-on-three, they shut us down. They executed well. That flow was really hard to get through.”
St. Francis scored twice in the first period, the first on a shot from the point by Organ at 5:37. Digby and Jay Ostrander earned assists on the play. Later in the period, Woodward made the initial save on a shot by Matthew Barrow but Snyder was there for the rebound and scored at 10:37 to extend the lead to 2-0. Gabe Barrow earned the second assist.
Nick Daly wrapped up the scoring with just seven seconds remaining in the game with help from Digby.
“At the start of the second period we pinned them in for three minutes straight, then took a bunch of penalties,” Perry said. “Then the third period, we played hard again. Keaton Rider was busting his butt, trying to get anything to happen. It’s just (St. Francis) has a lot of skill out there.”
Knights goaltender Jacob Coward stopped 15 shots to earn the shutout, his second straight in the playoffs.
Findlay 0 0 0 — 0
Toledo St. Francis 2 2 1 — 5
First period — 1, St. Francis, Organ (Digby, Ja. Ostrander), 5:37. 2, St. Francis, Snyder (M. Barrow, G. Barrow), 10:37.
Second period — 3, St. Francis, Ja. Ostrander (Digby, Snyder), pp, 11:11. 4, St. Francis, Snyder (N. Coward), 11:53.
Third period — 5, St. Francis, Daly (Digby), 14:53.
Shots on goal: Findlay 2-3-10–15. St. Francis 11-18-6–35.
Power-play opportunities: Findlay 0-6, St. Francis 1-5.
Goalies: Findlay, Woodward (35 shots, 30 saves); St. Francis, J. Coward (15 shots, 15 saves).