Quinn Westlake scored the winning goal for Crookston in a sudden death shootout.
Between Crookston and St. Paul Johnson exists 298 miles. Each year, one school travels those 298 miles to play for the Lions Cup. This year, St. Paul Johnson looked to defend the trophy in Crookston and extend their bragging rights for another year.
Three periods and one overtime was not enough to decide a winner. Although the MSHSL considered the game a tie after the conclusion of overtime, the two schools decided to let a best-of-three shootout decide who would hoist the cup this year.
Each team took their three penalty shots and a winner had still not yet been decided. Then a fourth, then a fifth and still no winner. Finally, with the sixth penalty shot for Crookston and the 12th overall, Quinn Westlake (Jr. F) ended the marathon and the rest of the Pirates mobbed him on the ice.
According to MSHSL rules, the game will go down as a 3-3 tie, but the Pirates reclaimed the Lions Cup.
“It’s a step in the right direction,” Head Coach Josh Hardy said. “You get the Lions Cup and we feel good about our game. We got another one tomorrow so we talked about enjoying this, but they got to get home, get something to eat, get to bed and get right back here tomorrow afternoon.”
St. Paul Johnson scored the game’s first goal back in the first period, but the Pirates allowed 1:16 to go by before Ty Hamre (Jr. D) equalized the score on a power play goal with help from Sam Overgaard (Sr. F) and Jack Doda (8th Grade D).
Less than three minutes after Hamre’s goal, Joe Doda (Jr. F) gave Crookston their first lead of the season. Assist credit went to Ben Andringa (Jr. F).
The second period did not offer much offense, but St. Paul Johnson managed to tie the game with a goal in the 13th minute. Through two periods, the score remained at 2-2 despite the Pirates leading shots on goal 19-12.
Two minutes into the third period, Eric Delorme received a pass from Brock Heppner (Sr. C) and beat the goaltender for a 3-2 lead and Crookston sat 15 minutes away from their first win.
The lead, however, did not last long. A tripping penalty gave St. Paul Johnson a 5-on-4 advantage which they proceeded to capitalize on with their second game-tying power play goal of the game to make the score 3-3.
“It was a couple mental mistakes that lost us a lead,” Hardy said. “They got two back on the power play. A. We can’t be in the penalties and B. We weren’t composed and disciplined enough on the penalty kill to stop those opportunities.”
Following the second power play goal, Crookston committed two more penalties in the third period and St. Paul Johnson was penalized three times, but neither team could beat the opposing goaltender to take the lead and the game went into overtime.
The Pirates played with a player in the box for the sixth time in the game to start overtime, but Crookston killed the power play with the help of nice saves from Jack Ricord (Sr. G). In regulation and overtime, Ricord saved 20 shots.
“Our PK was good there in the overtime period,” Hardy said. “[Jack] was just solid for us all night. I’m proud of his efforts. I thought we were able to execute better there on the penalty kill in overtime and we were also able to create some opportunities offensively short-handed.”
The buzzer sounded and the game officially became a 3-3 tie, but the teams knew there was still something to play for.
To start off the shootout, Ricord saved the first shot he faced and Andringa gave Crookston a 1–0 advantage. St. Paul Johnson promptly tied the competition with a goal and after Delorme failed to find the back of the net, another St. Paul Johnson goal put the pressure on Heppner.
Needing a goal to stay alive, Heppner delivered and tied the shootout at 2-2 to force sudden death penalty shots.
Ricord saved his fourth and fifth faced shot, but Thingelstad and Joe Doda could not score on their opportunities. Finally, after Ricord’s third stop in a row, Westlake sent the Crookston bench into a frenzy when he fired his shot past the St. Paul Johnson goalie to win the shootout and the Lions Cup.
“[Quinn] won a shootout for us in Detroit Lakes last year in JV,” Hardy said. “He’s got a good shot, he’s a smart kid and he’s pretty good with his hands so I felt good about him going. I probably should’ve sent him out a little bit earlier.”
Crookston (0-3-1) will go for their first win against Tartan at home on Saturday, December 8 at 2 p.m.
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