The last time Jared Thomas scored an overtime goal was in a back and forth semifinal game against Mahtomedi in last year’s state tournament. That goal gave Hermantown the right to play for the single A championship.
The overtime goal Thomas scored against Duluth Central Thursday night might not have been as important, but it gave Hermantown a 3-2 victory and helped to keep the Hawks perfect on the season with a 7-0 record.
“It feels great, the one at state was on a bigger stage” explained Thomas, “But anytime you win in overtime and you score the game winner it’s the same great feeling. I’m glad we were able to come back and win this one.”
The Hawks took the first lead of the game off a Garret Skrbich goal with 8:51 left to play in the first period. Skrbich dangled and toe-dragged the puck through the Trojan zone, splitting both defenders in the process to score the goal.
Duluth Central’s Tyler Kaspari came back a few minutes later to tie the game up. Kaspari’s goal came just two seconds after the Hawks had killed their first penalty of the game. The first period ended with two goals and two penalties – one for each team and Hermantown led in shots 11-7.
The second period yielded three penalties, two of which were coincidental and just one goal. Central scored the lone goal of the period when Ben Wrazidlo shot the puck as it laid perfectly still on the goal line with just 23 seconds left in the period.
“Your opportunities will come back to haunt you at the end of the game if you don’t put them away” said Duluth Central head coach Kevin Smalley, “We took advantage of a mistake they made and we put it in the back of the net.”
Hermantown had controlled most of the play up until that point with a shot edge of 19-17 but they weren’t converting on those chances.
“They were doing a great job and playing a good game” said Hermantown head coach Bruce Plante, “We had the better shots, we had all kinds of good chances, I think we hit the pipe four times in the second period. So basically I told them to just keep doing what they were doing.”
The third period was on a completely different level as there were six penalties called, two of which were in the last 90 seconds of the games against Hermantown. Knowing there was going to be a lot of work ahead for his players coach Plante called a timeout.
“They were pretty well tuned in at that time” explained coach Plante, “They knew they were playing well because they were getting all kinds of chances. We had all the momentum until we ran into the penalties and then we lost it. So we needed to just find that momentum again.”
The two penalties came just seconds after the Hawks had tied the game off of a Chris Benson tip courtesy of a Jake Zeleznikar shot from the point with just 8 seconds left on their power play. Kaspari was in the box for interference. Hermantown killed off the penalties until the end of regulation and when overtime started they still had about 40 seconds left of 5x3 followed by another 40 seconds of 5x4. The odds were severely in favor of Duluth Central.
“Coach [Plante] said we were playing fine and that we were dominating but we just weren't putting the puck into the net” said Thomas, “Our young guys scored the tying goal which was good so that it’s not just one line getting all the scoring.”
Duluth Central started the overtime period in complete control and had Hermantown on their heels. Hermantown went on to kill the penalties and Central had two shots on net. It would be the only shots the Trojans would get on net for the rest of the period.
“It’s really weird going from the first period where there were no penalties to the third period where there were penalties being called left and right” explained Trojan captain Mike Andrews, “Our power play is very good but it just didn’t pan out tonight. But we need to learn from the positives and move forward.”
Duluth Central was also called for a penalty early in the overtime period but Hermantown failed to convert on their power play as well. Moments before the Hawks scored the overtime winner there was a controversial “no-call” when a Hermantown player slashed a Central player. The hit was heard around the rink but there was no call made and the refs stated prior to the incident that they weren’t making anymore calls for the rest of the overtime period.
“Penalties are a big part of the game, it changes momentum it gives opportunities” said coach Smalley, “I saw some things happen out there even when they were on a 5x3 with some slashes and everything else that they let go but that’s part of the game.”
There were several no calls on both sides, mostly benefitting Central throughout the game until Hermantown’s ghost slash in overtime. A clearing attempt was made off of an initial Zach Thompson save by Jarad Overby, but the puck was bumped off Overby by Andrew Mattson. Thomas was there to pick up the puck, drag it across the crease and dump it into the net past Thompson with just 1:03 left in overtime.
Despite the loss, Trojan captain Andrews believes they gave their best efforts and there is positives to take out the game.
“Skating wise maybe we need a little more conditioning” said Andrews, “We really worked on our defensive zone and that was huge tonight; and maybe shoot the puck a little more. But we played good and we just need to build off that.”
Duluth Central head coach Smalley felt the same way.
“The bottom line is we have to play three periods and we have to take advantage of the opportunities that come our way. I was proud of our guys for the effort they gave tonight.”
1. Jared Thomas, Hermantown
The last time Thomas scored an overtime goal was in the state semi-final game last year against Mahtomedi. This time around Thomas’ goal kept the Hawks perfect on the season at 7-0. Thomas has 13 points on the season.
2. Zach Thompson, Duluth Central
Thompson made 31 saves in an overtime loss, but without his stellar play in between the pipes it would have been a different game. Thompson thwarted several odd man rushes and breakaway attempts to keep the Hawks to three goals through four periods of hockey.
3. Connor Lucas, Hermantown
Lucas made 22 save en route to an overtime victory to help keep the Hawks 7-0. Lucas was solid in the net for Hermantown and kept the Trojans off the board late in the game and in overtime during a 5x3 disadvantage.