Merrill skaters pull out OT win to remain unbeaten
The Bluejay hockey team took advantage of a rarely-made call to tie up last Tuesday’s road contest at Baldwin-Woodville, they built on that advantage by scoring the game-winner 4:05 into overtime.
Merrill improved to 3-0 on the season with the 3-2 triumph.
“We really got lucky in this one,” MHS coach Chase Nelson said. “But a win is a win, and we take any win we can get.
“In the third period, we really started to pick our heads up and we controlled the puck a bit more. We adjusted to their pressure and were able to generate some more offense. Baldwin committed two late penalties and we pulled our goalie to make it a 6-on-3 situation. After a couple of close calls, Nick Hoffmann was finally able to put one in the net.”
Or was it?
“Not really in the net, but it was recorded as a goal,” Nelson said. “He fired a hard shot from the slot area and the goalie made the save with his glove, but the momentum from the shot carried his glove into the goal. The ref was right there and I was not going to complain. Baldwin coaches, players, and fans felt a little different.”
Jaakko Holonanen assisted on Hoffmann’s goal, while Michael Baumann and Joe Ladewig set up the game-ender.
“A little over four minutes into the overtime, Brian Root was able to put a rebound into the wide open net for the game winner,” Nelson said.
The Jays also tallied the first goal of the game, when Bryce Swiechowski used help from Hoffmann and Dylan Heller to score just 23 seconds into the contest.
“We caught Baldwin off guard and got an early goal in the first, but then the pressure came and we did not handle it well at all,” Nelson said. “Their forecheck was way more aggressive than we had seen in our previous two games, and we really panicked and starting slapping the puck around.”
“We were lucky to get out of the first period with a 1-1 tie, given that they out-shot us 15-3 in the first. (Italian foreign exchange student) Carlo Corbani stopped their leading scorer twice on breakaways in the first, and really stood on his head all night, making outstanding save after outstanding save. To give up 44 shots and to have your goaltender save 42 of them really says a lot about his ability to compete.
“The second period was a little bit better, but we trailed 2-1 after two.”
Saves–MHS–Corbani 14-14-11-3–42; BW–Dominic Laesser 2-8-13-2–25.
Merrill hosted Shawano on Tuesday and will bring S.P. Pacelli here Thursday before embarking for U.P. games with Jeffers and L’Anse.
“We have a lot to work on still,” Nelson said. “The Pacelli game will be a big game for seeding purposes at the end of the year. I am expecting the Michigan games to be a lot like the Baldwin game in that they are going to pressure and hit you every time the puck touches your stick. Hopefully we can handle the pressure better and it won’t take two periods to adjust to the speed of the game.”