Devil Skaters Advance In Shootout After 4 OTs
BY DAVE SHEA
The members of the OFA Hockey team listened intently to the directions of coaches Jon Frederick, Matt Morley and Jim Howard throughout Friday's spellbinding four overtime 2-2 tie and two rounds of a shootout against Salmon River in a Section 10 DII semi-final game at the Edgar Newell Memorial Golden Dome.
But they also drew motivation from the legendary speech given by Team USA Hockey Coach Herb Brooks from the movie Miracle On Ice which immortalized the USA's victory over Russia in the 1980 Olympics in Lake Placid.
"The guys played the movie between every period and listened to Herb Brooks' speech. It is amazing but 40 years the words are still so moving. This is your time."
It was their time.
The second-seeded Devils prevailed in the second round of a three player shootout 1-0 and survived and advanced into Monday's 5 p.m. Division II Championship game at the Clarkson Cheel Center against top seeded Norwood-Norfolk.
The two teams split their NAC series which each team gaining a 2-0 victory.
Friday's contest was the latest in a series of recent OFA hockey and basketball games played in an electrified fun-loving atmosphere. The Blue Devil athletes, student body and the community turned out in force in a standing-room-only crowd. The Devils were mobbed by well-wishers as they left the ice in corridor to the lockeroom.
"This was just amazing. This is the best experience I have ever had in hockey. I'll never forget it" said OFA senior Stephen Morley who was part of an OFA defensive corps which rushed the puck relentlessly throughout the contest.
N-N (14-6-2) defeated St. Lawrence Central 6-2 in its semi-final game on Thursday. Canton, which downed Potsdam 2-1 on Wednesday, will play Massena for the Division I title in the second game of Monday night which follows the Northern Conference Hockey Awards presentation.
"This group is so resilient and they just keep grinding and grinding. We played very well except for the second period" said Coach Frederick.
"I feel bad that one the teams out there couldn't advance. They both played their hearts out and Coach Tim Cook just does a great job preparing his teams."
Salmon River also showed great resiliency rallying from a 2-0 deficit with two goals 43 seconds apart in the second period. The 2-2 tie stood through three overtimes where both OFA keeper Kelson Hooper (35 saves) and Shamrock Ryan Oakes Jr. (49 saves) played with poise and precision.
In the nerve-wrenching shootout Tim Cook Jr tucked home the puck as Salmon River's first shooter and Hooper stonewalled the final five Shamrock attempts. Nolan O'Donnell pulled OFA (12-8-1) even at 1-1 with a backhanded shot in the first overtime and freshman Landin McDonald confidently scored the only goal of the second round sniping home a quick wrist shot.
"I had never played in a shootout like that before. Their first guy spread me out and scored so I just tried to keep my focus," said Hooper after contest which could very well be the longest game in Section 10 history. Canton and Potsdam played to four overtime tie in the 2004 Section 10 Championship game but the Bears' advanced to the states in the first round of a shootout.
"We practiced shootouts one day this week and we were 0-16 so I hoped we wouldn't go to a shootout tonight. But then again we were shooting against Kelson," said Coach Frederick.
Karson LaRose sparked OFA to a 2-0 lead in the first period past 11 defiant saves by Oakes.
He scored the first goal at 5:56 unassisted firing a quick wrist shot just inside the far goalpost after the puck was directed out a scramble behind the net. On the second goal LaRose controlled the puck in another scramble behind net and set up Holden Woods for a close range tally.
Salmon River (11-11-1) converted the first power play of the contest which was played with only five penalties. Alex Oakes scored from the left slot off a pass from Tim Cook Jr. at 9:59 and at 10:42 Jared Showen scored on a break-away shot after breaking out of the defensive zone for a brilliant solo rush.
"We had to change our lines and our forecheck in the second period and were able to come back. It was a great game and we played well and OFA played well," said Salmon River Coach Tim Cook Sr.
"Ryan Oakes played very well for us. We have three goalies and they all improved a lot this year. And their goalie, Kelson Hooper, has had just an amazing season."