With both squads running away with their leagues in Sault Ste. Marie and Sudbury respectively, the pair appear to be virtual locks to win city championships.
However, with sights set well beyond regional boundaries, both were aware of the need to face much stiffer tests in preparation for what they hope will be a successful NOSSA and OFSAA run.
This past weekend, the Knights and Cards hooked up for a two-game exhibition set in the Nickel City, with fans treated to some of the best high school hockey seen in this area in recent years.
Saturday afternoon in Azilda, St. Mary's received a two-goal effort from Jaron Rowe, doubling St. Charles 4-2. Jesse Delavalle and Cody Poirier added single tallies, with Ethan Lamarche and Jacob Leore countering for the Cardinals, both on the power play.
Leore had closed the gap to 3-2, finding the back of the net with 2:07 to play before Poirier nailed the middle of the empty St. Charles net with 49 seconds showing on the scoreboard.
Things got even tighter in the rematch at Centennial Arena later that evening as Leore potted his second goal of the game with his team short-handed and less than 10 seconds to play, lifting St. Charles into a 4-4 tie with St. Mary's.
Riley Lefrancois and Nathan Scruton rounded out the scoring for the Cardinals, who resume league play on Feb. 6, facing the second-place Confederation Chargers.
The Chargers, meanwhile, will be among five local teams in a total field of eight that will participate in the third annual Knights Invitational on Jan. 30 and 31.
The tournament, hosted by Lo-Ellen Park Secondary School, will take place at the Gerry McCrory Countryside Sports Complex.