The girls high school hockey game set the tone and the boys were more than willing to follow suit.
With St. Charles and Notre Dame going to a shootout to decide Game 1 of the girls hockey city finals Feb. 25 at the Carmichael Arena, the stage was set for a pair of boys encounters with even more at stake.
Leading the best-of-five Division A series 2-0, but trailing 2-0 in the second period, the St. Charles College Cardinals rallied as they had so often before this year, making it back-to-back city championships with a 3-2 win over an energetic Manitoulin Mustangs crew.
Sheldon Campbell and Chris King provided Manitoulin a 2-0 lead, with the Mustangs having dropped the first two games by scores of 4-2 and 3-0.
A goal from Tyler Dominelli cut the deficit in half heading to the third, where Blake Purcell and Tyler Scagnetti completed the comeback, giving St. Charles the series sweep.
“Our depth really came through,” said assistant coach Darren Michelutti, his team without the services of leading scorer Riley Lefrancois. The talented sniper broke bones in both his tibia and fibula in a Game 1 incident that seemed very benign at the time.
“At the end of the second period, we just reminded them about the Bishop Carter games,” Michelutti said. The perennial high school hockey powerhouse had spotted the Gators a lead in both of their semifinal encounters before rallying to overtake their opponents.
St. Charles started Game 1 of the final with a burst, jumping out to a 4-0 lead on goals from Scagnetti, Peter Raymond, Kody Krystia and Raymond again.
Replies from King and Mason Graham in the first five minutes of period three made things interesting, though the Mustangs could draw no closer.
Manitoulin was challenged offensively even moreso at home on Feb. 22 as Cardinals' puckstopper Nick McGregor recorded the shutout in a 3-0 win. Krystia, Purcell and Raymond handled the goal scoring for St. Charles, which now moves on to compete at the NOSSA AAA/AAAA Championships in Sault Ste. Marie early next week.
No sooner had St. Charles and Manitoulin left the ice, that the drama began all over again for a third and deciding game in the Division B semifinal between the Lockerby Vikings and Lo-Ellen Park Knights.
Though it was the Vikes that were favoured, it was the Knights sitting pretty after two periods, clinging to a 1-0 lead on a goal from Jon Wennerstrom.
Lockerby would even the mark early in the third, courtesy of a tally from Connor Griffith, with Jake Santi seemingly setting the stage for a Vikings victory with a goal with just 3:47 to play.
But the “never-say-die” Knights were not about to go away quietly, sending the contest to overtime as Zach Czaja deadlocked the contest at 2-2 with only 18 ticks remaining on the clock.
In the end, Lockerby prevailed as Griffith netted his second goal of the game midway through the opening 10-minute overtime session, sending the Vikings to the Division B final opposite the St. Benedict Bears.
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