Saline defenseman Brendan Murphy wired a wrist shot past Chelsea goalie Adrian Boote 20 seconds into overtime to lift the Hornets to a 2-1 victory over the Bulldogs.
The game-winning goal came on the powerplay, just moments after Chelsea’s Nicholas Holmberg stunned the Hornets with a a tying shorthanded goal with 13.5 seconds to play in regulation.
“We play once a year and it’s always a hard-fought game. As you can, it came down to the last 10 seconds of the game,” Murphy said. “It feels really good to take one because I felt like we had it the whole game, so it feels good to make sure we got it at the end.”
Murphy too a pass from Logan Dejanovich and then skated in from the left point before firing his heavy wrist shot past the Chelsea goalie.
Saline, 14-1, entered the contest ranked sixth in Division II. Chelsea, 11-2-1, was 10th in Division III.
Coach Paul Fassbender was happy to see his team find a way to win.
“Chelsea has a good team and while we weren’t sluggish, I think we spent a lot of energy in our game in Indiana yesterday. We weren’t at our best today, but we found a way to win.”
Fassbender praised the play of his defense and goalie Cam Crawford.
“We have a fairly young defense that’s getting better and learning as they go. They’ve improved a lot throughout the year,” Fassbender said. “And we knew Cam would be ready for this game.”
The two sides were scoreless after the first period. Saline went 0-for-2 on the powerplay and Chelsea went 0-for-1.
Both teams were strong on the PK throughout the night.
Midway through the second period Nick Miller was sent to the box for interference.The aggressive Saline penalty killers went to work and forced a turnover. Defenseman Mason Ausmus chipped the puck out and caught up to it, creating a two-on-one with forward Ben Wild.
“He gave me a good pass. I threw it at the net. It hit off their defense’s skate and went in,” Wild said, describing the goal that put Saline up, 1-0.
The Saline defense, for the most part, kept a lid on the Chelsea attack. But goalie Cam Crawford stopped breakaways by Holmberg and Brad Sullivan to keep the Hornets ahead. Crawford also made big saves during two Chelsea powerplays in the third period. The Bulldogs continued to press as the minutes fell off the clock
When Chelsea’s Wes Sullivan was called for holding with 37 seconds left in the third period, it seemed like Saline might be safe. But with 13.5 seconds left, Holmberg gathered a loose puck and fired a long wrist shot that got over Crawford’s shoulder.
Chelsea’s fans celebrated as the Bulldogs celebrated the game-tying goal. Crawford wasn’t happy with the goal he gave up - particularly after he’d had such a stellar game.
But the Hornets weren’t fazed.
“We went back to the bench and we called a play. We still had the powerplay and we wanted to win it in regulation,” Fassbender said.
Dejanovich generated a solid chance before the end of regulation.
It took Saline just 20 seconds to score in overtime. Captain Andrew Birkle passed to Dejanovich, who found Murphy for the goal.
Salinee celebrated the goal in front of their bench.
“It was a big game. Chelsea’s one of the best SEC teams and even though they have champions for the SEC White and SEC Red, we want to win it outright,” Fassbender said.
The Saline Post’s 3 Stars
Brendan Murphy - Played a strong game on defense and delivered the game-winning goal.
Cam Crawford - Had a great game despite that the tying goal. Chelsea easily could have had two or three goals.
Ben Wild - Part of a Saline PK that not only held Chelsea off the board, they scored Saline’s only goal in regulation.