Chandler St. Michel, a sophomore winger, buried a rebound at the 1:32 mark of overtime.
Going into overtime Tuesday against Kittson County Central with the score knotted at 4-4, Pirate head boys' hockey coach Jon Bittner thought to himself, "We haven't heard much from Chandler St. Michel tonight."
St. Michel, a sophomore winger, buried a rebound at the 1:32 mark of overtime from the middle of the slot that slipped through the pads of Bearcat junior goalie Tucker Cosley, lifting the Pirates to a 5-4 win, their third in three games this season.
"Chandler is a goal scorer and a tough kid," coach Bittner said of St. Michel after the game.
Senior center Ryan Edevold had two goals and an assist, senior winger Dylan Klatt had a goal and two assists and senior defenseman Ryan Bittner had three assists, including one on the overtime goal. Crookston had 40 shots on goal.
"I was happy with our shots on goal," coach Bittner said. "We've run into some good goaltending and kids have made some good saves against us. Kittson works hard and that's a very proud organization over there."
Cosley recorded 34 saves for the Bearcats, while Pirate junior goalie Parker Epema had 12 saves.
The Pirates are off to their first 3-0 start in more than a decade and coach Bittner attributes that to the new arena and summer ice.
"These are the first seniors that have come through our summer programs," he explained. "We had four tournaments here this summer. We are starting to see the effects of this building. Before this building we were one of three teams in the section without summer ice. If you don't have ice you can't play hockey. We are now on par with everyone else. I'm very passionate about that."
Edevold lit the lamp first with 4:40 left in the first period with a power play goal on a slap shot from the high slot with Klatt on the assist. And that was the only score of the first period.
The Pirates successfully killed off a five-minute man short earlier in the first period but were called for another with two seconds left in the period.
Edevold made it 2-0 Crookston with a shorthanded goal at the 1:20 mark of the second period with assists going to senior defenseman Cam Leas and Bittner.
Kittson Central's Alex Strege answered less than a minute later with a power play goal and Tyler Cosley popped in back-to-back goals at the 3:16 (on a power play) and 6:46 marks, giving the Bearcats a 3-2 lead.
The Pirates turned up the heat in the second half of the second period, outshooting the Bearcats 16-3 in the final eight minutes of the period. Klatt managed to tie the game up before the end of the period, though, when he skated across the crease and flipped a backhand in with 6:13 remaining. Freshman center Doug Larson and Bittner assisted on the play.
Larson gave Crookston its lead back with a power play goal at the 4:45 mark of the third period, pushing the momentum further in the Pirates' favor with a 4-3 lead. Klatt and Edevold assisted on Larson's goal.
Kittson Central managed to tie it up with 1:24 left when Dalton Klegstad fired a hard shot on a rush and beat Epema to the low far side, sending the game into overtime where St. Michel's goal would win it for the Pirates.
Crookston is battling illness and injuries. A number of top players battled through sickness to play. Junior defenseman Justin Cameron, who has not played yet this season, recently underwent an appendectomy and will return as soon as he heals.
The Pirates will look to keep their perfect season alive Friday and Saturday as they host St. Paul Johnson and Tartan, respectively. St. Paul Johnson and Crookston will play for the Lions Cup with the puck set to drop at 7:30 p.m., while the game against Tartan is set to start at 3 p.m.