SAN JOSE, Calif. — Team Ohio beat the Minnesota Moose in overtime to win the 3A division title Monday at the 2019 Chipotle-USA Hockey Youth Tier II 18U National Championships at Solar4America Ice.
The game was a thrilling back-and-forth, with multiple lead changes and late goals.
“To go out like this is amazing,” said Ohio defenseman Tyler Budzar, who scored the game-winning goal.
The game was even from the get-go with a scoreless first period. The Moose opened the scoring with 14:53 left in the second period. Eli Dolney pushed the puck up the ice on a fast break, putting the Moose in good position for Michael Beneke to score.
This was the fourth time in this tournament that Ohio would play from behind. Once more, they didn’t let it affect them.
Ohio answered with a burst of energy, scoring two goals within 36 seconds. Jack Henry Muha scored, then Dominic Casamatta quickly followed up with his own goal with 12 minutes left in the second period to give Ohio a 2-1 lead.
“It was an up-and-down game,” Budzar said.
Ohio’s energy boost was quickly snuffed out.
With 11:18 left in the second period, Carter Henry scored for the Moose on a power play to tie the game. In just 90 seconds, three goals were scored.
At the 9:03 mark in the second, the Moose scored once again on the power play to take the lead. After a scrum in front of the goal, Cole Gibson poked it in to put the Moose up 3-2.
“The game changes so fast,” Ohio head coach Patrick Metzger said.
The third period started with the Moose controlling the puck and the lead. They had multiple good shots, to no avail, early in the period.
Finally, on a fast break, Zach Lanz scored for the Moose to put them up 4-2 with 8:15 to play in regulation.
Ohio brought the game to within one score when Brennan Dickey scored on a stellar shot from long distance with 7:26 remaining.
As time winded down, Ohio developed a sense of urgency down 4-3. Most of their shots, though, were from too far away and with too many players in between.
Metzger decided to pull goalie Benjamino Savarino for an extra attacker with four minutes left.
“We were down to our last chance. We needed to get a goal,” Metzger said.
Dickey scored his second of the period when he netted the game-tying goal for Ohio with 1:49 left in regulation. Ohio had a few more chances in regulation, but couldn’t find a game-winning opportunity.
With 30 seconds left in regulation, an Ohio player was called for tripping. Tensions remained high as the national championship would be decided in overtime.
The teams went back and forth for several minutes in the extra period until Tyler Budzar finally scored for Ohio, and the team erupted with joy.
“It wasn’t a strong shot, but good things happen when you go at the net,” he said.
“I thought we dominated OT,” Metzger said.
Metzger remarked on how unpredictable overtime can be, something Ohio has gotten familiar with in their multiple close games. They had won the previous day’s semifinal in another exciting game that ended in a shootout.
This championship was years in the making for the Team Ohio program. Metzger has been head coach for eight years, and this is his first championship victory. The road to this championship was paved with devastating quarterfinal, semifinal and championship losses, something they finally overcame.
“It hasn’t quite sunk in yet,” Metzger said.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.