On paper, it seemed like Notre Dame Academy was going to cruise to the Fox River Classic conference championship on Saturday, but hockey games aren't played on paper and the Bay Port Pirates certainly made it difficult on the #4-in-the-state Tritons.
In the end, in the second overtime period, Notre Dame captured a 5-4 win over their Bay Area rivals to take home the FRCC crown.
Between the Junior Gamblers and Green Bay Area Youth Hockey Association, most of the players on these two teams have been playing with each other most of their lives.
"Kids that have grown up playing with and against each other. There seems to be a different energy level attached for some players," said Triton coach Cory McCracken. "Bay Port certainly doesn’t like to lose. Neither do we."
The two teams combined to take just seven shots in the first period, five for Notre Dame and two for Bay Port, and other than a one-timer for Notre Dame as time expired in the period, none of them were particularly dangerous.
Notre Dame finally opened the scoring at just 1:51 of the second period. Brenden Gruber fired a shot high on the blocker side and Pirate goalie Devin Rustlie made the save, but after hitting Rustlie, the puck hit the post and came back and hit Rustlie in the back. It laid in the crease for a few seconds and before the Pirates could pounce on it, Hunter Bill poked it into the yawning net.
The Pirates answered back with two goals in the span of 23 seconds however. On the first Konor Tignall was left wide open in front of the net and knocked in a feed from Zac Burns behind the net. Before we finished talking about that one Nick Voss buried another for the Pirates to give them a 2-1 lead.
The Tritons would bring it back to even on a tremendous individual effort by Callan Budinger. On a Triton penalty kill they sent the puck deep down the ice, and Budinger beat the Pirates defense back, muscled his way around the net against the Pirate defender and passed out front to Quinn Koszarek who was all alone to net the shorty and tie the game at two.
"That play defines Callan as a player," said McCracken. "Special player making a special play. Hunted, stripped, won the battle and made a play. The foundation of success in the game."
It was more back-and-forth play in the third period. Voss scored again for the Pirates just 33 seconds into the frame. He had the puck behind the net, faked one way drawing the goalie across and going back for the wrap around goal.
The Tritons answered six minutes later on a power play goal by Isaac Rentmeester, whose job on the Notre Dame power play is to clog up the front of the net, and he did it well.
William Lyons gave Bay Port the lead six minutes later on an off angle shot from boards above the hashmarks in the offensive zone. It somehow snuck through Addison Tyczkowski's legs to make it 4-3 for Bay Port.
Notre Dame tied the game with 2:24 left on the clock. Michael McIntee fired a shot from the point, and Brenden Gruber tipped it up and in to make it four a piece.
After an eight minute five-on-five overtime failed to find a winner the teams both argued with the officials. After a three minute break, the teams were sent to the locker rooms and the ice was cleaned.
Eventually they came back out for 17-minute 5-on-5 overtime, which is not the WIAA's overtime procedure of the game.
"It is a FRCC bylaw in our conference tournament championship game," said coach McCracken. "We talked to official group. We wanted to go 3x3 for 5:00. They said no based on FRCC rules. We were out voted."
"We met as coaches this morning to make sure the OT procedure going forward mirrors WIAA protocol," he added.
Just a couple minutes into the second overtime Brenden Gruber fired a beautiful wrist shot from the high slot into the glove side top corner to give Notre Dame the 5-4 win and the FRCC championship.
Due to the way WIAA rules are worded, the game officially counts as a tie on both teams' regular season schedule.
Overtime procedures for regular season games are as follows:
(1)A three-minute rest period.
(2)An eight-minute five (5) on five (5) overtime sudden victory period.
(3) If still tied, a three-minute rest period, followed by a five-minute three (3) on three (3) sudden victory period.
(4)If still tied, the contest ends in a tie and is to be listed as a tie on a team’s season record.
(5)An alternate tie-breaking procedure may be determined in addition to the procedures identified above by the host school. However, any hockey game where an alternate tie-breaking procedure is used (not including a sudden-victory during an eight-minute overtime period or a sudden-victory during a five-minute three (3) on three (3) period) is to be listed as a tie on a team’s season record.
When asked about Bay Port's top line of William Lyons, Sam Lyons and Nick Voss, McCracken said "Really good high school line. They play a lot. Probably 40+ minutes tonight."
Rustlie stopped 43 of 48 for the Pirates in the loss, and Tyczkowski stopped 7 of 11 for the Tritons in the win.
Editors Note: No photo gallery for this one. Bill Jr was color on Bay Port Radio's broadcast of the game. You can watch the game below.