In a night with both teams missing key players neither Duluth Central nor Proctor expected the game to go the way it did. Three total goals, three total penalties, two total minutes of 5x4 hockey and four total periods of hockey.
The game went into overtime which saw Proctor applying heavy pressure and they got the first three shots on goal. But with just under six minutes to play in the overtime period Brendan Johnson intercepted a pass and shot the puck through a slew of players to score the game winning goal for his second point of the night.
Duluth Central scored on its only shot of the overtime period and Proctor took the game total in shots 23-19.
“It feels really good” Johnson said of scoring the overtime winner, “I really wanted to win this one and our team played really hard.”
Most of the game saw both teams playing at the same level with Central taking the edge in shots in the first period 10-6. There were no penalties and the score was tied at zeros going into the first intermission.
The Trojans were missing defenseman Ben Campbell and forwards Levi Talarico and Colin Magnuson – a total of 59 points on the season between the three. Proctor was missing Ian Ecklund and Tyler Pionk – a total of 38 points on the season between the two.
“We had a lot of guys that moved around and we had some guys thatwere out tonight” said Central head coach Kevin Smalley, “But you know we had three guys that stepped into the play tonight and they worked hard and they held their own and they got some varsity experience.”
The second period was almost the same as the first with Duluth Central taking the edge in shots 6-5. The difference was there was actually a penalty called in the period. Proctor’s Patrick Everson sat in the box for a roughing to the head penalty three minutes into the period. It would be the only non-5x5 play of the game and Central failed to record a shot during their power play.
With less than one minute left in the second period the Trojans put on some heavy pressure and a broken Proctor play led to a two on one for Central. Brendan Johnson drew the defenseman down low and passed the puck back to Tyler Kaspari who rifled it into the back of the net with ten seconds left in the second period. Central would take that lead into the second intermission.
“I told them not to lose their focus” said Proctor head coach Tim Schnobrich, “One of our guys got taken down twice and whether or not they call a penalty you have to stay focused. Don’t lose your head because when you lose your head you start running around and then they get situations like that where they get a 2-1 and too good of a scoring chance that late in the period.”
The third period saw a lot of back and forth action but Proctor would take the shot total 9-2 in the period. With just over twelve minutes to play it looked like Central was going to get its second power play of the game as there was a delayed call against Jimmy Merling for boarding Ryker Holm. But Holm lost his cool and got up and threw Merling to the ice, drawing his own interference penalty. The penalties would be coincidental and the play would resume 5x5.
“We started to play more defensive and made sure we always locked on a guy and kept them in front of us” Central’s Brendan Johnson said of his team’s strategy after taking a 1-0 lead.
The score stayed 1-0 until Proctor’s Griffin Swanson passed the puck up to a highflying Jesse Scanlon. Scanlon caught the pass through a defender and scored on his breakaway to tie the game up with only three minutes left in regulation.
“I thought we played good” Scanlon said of his team’s performance,
“They got the first goal but we stayed positive and finally got it in.”
The game could have gone either way – more penalties could have been called on both teams, and Proctor players probably blocked more shots than Central had total on net.
“I don’t think we generated enough offense but their team gets in shooting lanes really well” explained coach Smalley, “They went back in defense and they probably blocked over a dozen shots from the blue line. They’re a very well positioned team and a very well coached team and when they get their other guys back they’re going to be a force to be reckoned with.”
Coach Schnobrich agrees that his team played very well and the game was up in the air until the final goal was scored in overtime.
“I thought the game could have gone either way” said coach Schnobrich, “I’m happy with our performance and we’re also shorthanded. I thought we battled back and did some good things and I’m looking forward to when we’re a complete team.”
Central’s next game is at home to Forest Lake on Tuesday, January 11th, while Proctor is in action this Saturday at Ashland.
1. Brendan Johnson, Duluth Central
Johnson figured in on both of the Trojans’ goal with a goal and an assist. Johnson scored the game winner in overtime to help bring Central to 7-7 on the season.
2. Jesse Scanlon, Proctor
Scanlon scored the lone goal for the Rails with just three minutes in regulation to send the game into overtime. Without his goal Central may very well have left Proctor with a 1-0 shutout.
3. Zach Thompson, Duluth Central
Thompson stopped all but one shot of the 23 he faced through the game to help bring his team back to the .500 mark.