The Dallas Ice Jets scored their first goal 17 seconds into the USA Hockey National Championship game, their last goal with 32 seconds remaining, and packed a whole lot of crazy in between en route to winning the Tier II 18 & Under Conference 2A title.
Alex Rife scored a goal with 31.5 seconds remaining to finally give Dallas a lead that would stick, and the Ice Stars defeated the South Florida Golden Wolves 6-5 on Sunday in Rochester, N.Y.
Rife followed Matthew Robinson down ice on a last-ditch effort to avoid overtime. When Robinson left the puck in the goalie crease, Rife was able to push it home for the game-winner. Robinson was credited with the game-winning assist.
“We were coming down, and I got by the first guy,” said Robinson of the game-winner. “I hoped something good would happen. I tried to get it in, but I saw 33 (Rife) coming, so I knew he’d take care of it.”
“I’m so stoked right now,” he added.
“91 (Robinson) made the play. He had it, and the puck trickled through the goalie,” Rife said. “It was right there in the crease. I just put it in.”
The goal was Rife’s second of the tournament and couldn’t have come at a better time. Just 11.3 seconds earlier, a South Florida team that just wouldn’t die tied the score on a Matthew Kelley goal.
Dallas had earlier watched a three-goal lead evaporate in the second period, then lost a two-goal third-period lead in the final minute of play.
Even after Rife’s heroics, the outcome wasn’t certain. Dallas goalie Ryan Medellin made a five-hole save with 17.2 seconds remaining, then deflected another shot high with 7.5 seconds left.
None of the members of the winning team could remember surviving a wilder final minute to win.
“Not even close,” Robinson said. “Not after getting scored on and then hurrying back to win it like that.”
“Never in all my time coaching have I been part of something like that,” Dallas coach Jeff Ramsay said. “I’ve got to be honest: I was already thinking about overtime.”
Robinson started the scoring early with an unassisted goal 17 seconds after the opening faceoff. He added a second goal later in the game to finish tied for the team lead with six goals in Nationals.
Brandon Harley scored the team’s second goal and also gave the team the lead again late in the second period after South Florida tied the score at 3-all.
Harley finished the tournament with five goals. Tyler Privette, who had a team-leading ten assists for the tournament, assisted on both of Harley’s goals. Privette also scored his fourth goal of Nationals to give Dallas a 3-0 lead just over a minute into the second period.
South Florida got back into the game in the second period thanks to a series of Dallas penalties.
“They came on big time,” Ramsay said. “They got a lot of momentum off of their power play. They came down on a five-on-three and scored. Then they scored right after they came off the five-on-three. And at that point, it was a game again.”
The back-to-back penalties by Dallas players Patrick Price and Brandon Mahoney allowed South Florida to score three goals in 57 seconds.
Philip Lasker got two of the three Golden Wolves’ goals during the stretch. Brett Meyers got the other. Lakser finished with four goals in Nationals, while Meyers had three.
South Florida had a very balanced scoring attack for the week. Nine players had at least three goals, but none had more than five. Ten Golden Wolves had more than three assists, led by Lasker’s and Meyers’ seven each.
On their road to the title, Dallas went undefeated in 2A pool play. The Ice Jets beat Great Falls 4-2 in the opener, then scored four second-period goals to erase an early deficit against Idaho 4-3, and finally rode three third-period goals to a 4-1 win over Phoenix.
Things were a little easier in Saturday’s elimination games as Dallas beat CLCF 5-1 in the quarterfinals and Spokane 7-3 in the semis.
Then came the South Florida team that wouldn’t quit, and a final minute for the ages.
“Last year in the semifinals, we had something similar in the last minute,” recalled Rife. “But we didn’t win. Otherwise, it was just like that.”
Just like that, except this time, the Dallas Ice Jets were the ones smiling.
Story courtesy of Red Line Editorial, Inc.
Tag(s): 18 & Under