Toledo St. Francis de Gross sales dominates Walsh Jesuit, 7-2, in state hockey semifinal


COLUMBUS, Ohio – Walsh Jesuit ended their best hockey season in school history on Saturday, losing 7-2 to Toledo St. Francis de Sales in the OHSAA semifinals at the Ice House at Nationwide Arena.

The first trip to the state tournament in program history couldn’t have started much worse for Walsh, as the Warriors demanded two penalties in the first phase and de Sales took full advantage of two power play goals from Riley Box to get a 2 -0 Lead.

“It’s like swimming on a waterfall when this happens to you,” said Walsh coach Peter Calleri. “We hadn’t hoped or expected that.”

The Knights added a third goal before the end of the first, but the Warriors took on playfully despite the early deficit.

Hunter Nalepka first lit the lamp for Walsh with a power play goal at 1:24 of the second period. The goal was Nalepka’s 10th of the season. A little more than a minute later, Ryan Kerscher found the end point for his tenth goal to reduce de Sales’ lead to 3-2.

“This has been our makeup for two years,” said Calleri. “They say never die, never stop, never stop attitude and without that we can’t have the opportunity to play here like we did today.”

Both teams had several options as the period progressed, but it was de Sales who ultimately capitalized on the game and took control of the game.

Riley Box received a penalty at 7:46 a.m. in the second half and went to the glove side against Walsh goalkeeper Zach Firment. It was the third goal of the game for Box. Just two minutes later, Devon Homier scored a power play goal for the Knights. Homier then added his own penalty goal in the final seconds of the period to make it 6-2.

“You ended up with two penalty shots in the period,” said Calleri. “I’ve been in the game a long time and I don’t think I’ve ever seen that, but the calls were good.”

Jake Myers met for de Sales at 8:34 am of the third.

Not only did this mark Walsh’s first trip to the state tournament, but the Warriors became the first Summit County team to break into the last four in the tournament’s 44-year history.

“I think it’s a will for all the teams, all the players, all the coaches who came before us and started the program,” said Calleri. “We’re just trying to carry on their legacy.”

Though Calleri failed to achieve the ultimate goal of winning the State Cup, his post-game message to the team was positive when he told the players that their bond is something they will carry with them forever.

“You have nothing to hold your head over and you should be proud,” Calleri said. “While it will sting a bit, there is a brotherhood in this locker room that will last long after this game ends.”

Ryan Isley is a freelancer based out of Akron