A puck is dropped during the Cape Cod Whalers' overtime victory over NJ. (Photo by Carmo Photography)
WEST CHESTER – The first thing Cape Cod Whalers head coach Andrew Orpik told his team in the locker room following their quarterfinals game versus the NJ Avalanche was to call their teachers.
Instead of being in school on Monday, they would be playing for a trip to the USA Hockey Tier I 18U Youth National Championships after defeating the Avalanche 4-3 in overtime on Sunday.
After tying the game at three thanks to an Aidan McDonough goal with 2:08 left in the third, the Whalers scored just one minute and 12 seconds into overtime on a slick breakaway goal by Jack Rathbone.
Not only was this the goal to send his team to the semifinals, but it was also Rathbone’s third of the game, a rare hat trick for the defenseman.
With the Avalanche on the attack in OT, Cape Cod defenseman Jack Murphy deflected a cross-ice pass that sent Rathbone and teammate Jay O’Brien on a two-on-one the other way.
O’Brien received the puck and sent it over to Rathbone, who made a nifty move to his backhand for an easy finish.
Orpik praised Rathbone, who also is no stranger to the Whalers organization.
“I think he’s been a four year member of the Whalers so it feels like he’s been around for a long time and I think all the guys in the locker room look up to him,” Orpik said.
“He’s a backbone of our team and I think a guy that everyone looks to when times are tough or when times are tight like they were in overtime,” he added. “He’s the guy you look to to step up.”
On his game-winner, Rathbone was quick to credit the work O’Brien put in to set him up.
“It was a pretty amazing play by him over on the right side, he slowed the play down and once he got the guy to drop I kind of just put my head down and went to the net,” Rathbone said. “Once I got the puck I had enough time to go to my backhand, I saw an opening and put it there.”
Despite having a 2-1 lead turn into a 3-2 deficit on two power play goals from NJ forward Oliver MacDonald, Orpik knew his team didn’t have to stray away from the original game plan.
“It wasn’t like we had to change much, I think staying out of the box which has plagued us a little bit was gonna be important but just staying with what was working,” he said. “I think you look at our tying goal and our winning goal, it was two-on-one’s that were created off good transitions. We’re a team that if we can utilize our speed we can be successful.”
Now one game away from playing for a national championship, Rathbone wants to give the organization that gave him a home for four years a proper parting gift.
"They've done a lot for me as a player so to finish it off with a good run here would be pretty good to give back to them," he said.
CarShield 9, Shattuck St. Mary's 2
After allowing the first two goals to Shattuck St. Mary's, it was all CarShield from there, scoring the next eight goals en rout to a convincing victory and a berth in the semifinals. Jacob Wiethaupt, Jared Wescott and Otto Thiele paced the CarShield attack with two goals apiece on the day.Gunnar Stadem added a shorthanded goal, while power play goals were scored for CarShield by Joe Winkelmann and Eric Brown. The lone goals for Shattuck were scored by John Lagerstrom and Tyler Cooper.
Eastern Mass Senators 4, Culver Military Academy 3
Jackson Pierson tied the game at three for Culver with 4:41 left, but Matt Guerra scored with 33 seconds left in regulation to lift the Senators to a dramatic quarterfinals victory. Guerra's goal was the fourth of the period for Eastern Mass, who received goals from Vilho Saariluoma, Mathew Rickard and Ryan Black. Nicholas Stapleton scored a power play goal for Culver 39 seconds into the final stanza, and James Fisher Shea opened the scoring in the second.
CCYHA 2, Yale Bulldogs National 1 (OT)
All it took was 33 seconds of overtime for CCYHA to advance to the semifinals thanks to a Jake Veilleux goal. Ryan Sullivan scored the first goal for CCYHA on the power play after Alex Dipaolo gave Yale the 1-0 lead with 2:28 remaining in the opening period.