Patriots Rally In The 3rd To Squeeze Out 5-4 OT Win, Take 3-1 Series Lead

The Mount Forest Patriots managed to sneak out of Walkerton with a huge 5-4 OT win tonight, the 3rd such score line in the series and an incredible 4th straight overtime contest between two dead even opponents.

The first period was a slow, choppy affair as both teams were trying to exploit the more condensed neutral zone in the Walkerton rink. There were few quality scoring chances as both D-cores forced attackers wide with pucks bouncing all over the place with the attempted stretch feeds. It was the first time in the series that one or fewer penalties were called, as Klayton Hoelscher got dinged for an obvious interference on Gary Mantz, and D-man Quinton Maddock took advantage with a low hard shot that beat Pats’ goalie David Lobsinger glove side. Not much else in this frame, as the Hawks skated off up 1-0. Patriots captain Shawn Lantz appeared to take a slash to the left wrist on the ensuing draw on the Hawks’ PP, and didn’t return to the ice for the rest of the period.

Both teams decided that the second period was the one to open things up for. The teams decided to actually skate the puck up the ice to create rushes. The Hawks were all over the Pats in the first 3 minutes, and then the first chance Mount Forest got in the period went in as Hayden Coulter wedged a puck right at the foot of the crease past a dismayed Matt Donnelly. Then it was Michael Steffanelli’s turn as he got a puck off a turnover in the neutral zone and skated clear in on Donnelly and lasered it far side. Walkerton didn’t take long to tie it up as Brendan Welsh scored for the 3rd straight game the same way as the other 2, low and hard with a shot that beat David Lobsinger clean blocker side. Late in the period, Mount Forest earned their first power play, and Klayton Hoelscher took all of 7 seconds to slide it in 5-hole. Mount Forest earned another power play late, before yielding another man advantage to Walkerton, who took 1:36 of that into the 3rd trailing 3-2.

Into the third and final regulation frame, and it started much the same as the first, with both teams tentatively throwing long stretch passes around. But then everyone settled into an absolute grind, as the Hawks victimized an unfortunate turnover by Pats defender Brock Philips, and captain Justin Donnelly sniped one by Lobsinger glove side to tie it at 3. The Hawks would then take the lead for the 2nd time, as Brady Stewart scored another short-handed goal in this series to make it 4-3 Hawks. But Brock Philips, who made the critical error on the Donnelly goal earlier, was determined to make up for his mistake, and rifled a hard shot glove side that beat the Hawks goalie with minutes remaining to force a 4th straight OT.

In the extra frame, the rushes up ice were coming fast and furious as both goalies were forced into critical saves and a number off odd man rushes were broken up by clutch defensive stick plays. As play opened up and both teams completed changes, Klayton Hoelscher decided to stay on for one last rush as captain Shawn Lantz made a high saucer pass to Riley Cribbin right at the Hawks blueline. Ryan Maksymyk crept in cross ice, and Cribbin found him with a perfect feed through the seam as the Hawks D scrambled to get back into position, but it was too late. Maksymyk outwaited the defender and slid a perfect pass to the waiting blade of Hoelscher, who made zero mistake in tucking it by a helpless Matt Donnelly. The Pats now have a chance to win their second straight Pollock Division title on home ice Wednesday night. Puck drop at 8 pm.