The stands were packed at Providence College’s Schneider Arena on Friday night, as both the Bishop Hendricken Hawks and the Mount St. Charles Mounties were hyped to begin their best-of-three state championship series.
And they didn’t disappoint.
Top-seeded Hendricken rallied from a late 3-2 deficit to tie the game on a goal by David Mitchell and then got the game-winner with the clock winding down in overtime from Paul Filippone to shock No. 2 seed Mount 4-3 and take a 1-0 lead in the series.
Robbie Buehrer scored twice for the Hawks and Billy Palmer made 31 saves in goal.
“I think we were okay with the way we were playing,” Hendricken head coach Jim Creamer said about his team’s mindset while trailing late in the game. “To come back is a tribute to our guys. They did what they had to do."
It was a whirlwind ending to a game that got more intense as it went on.
With the game tied at two, things started getting chippy in the third period after a hit from Hendricken’s Austin Navarro left Mount’s Brian Belisle lying on the ice holding his left knee. He was eventually able to skate off on his own and returned to the action just minutes later, but it was clear that the game had been turned up a notch.
And Mount was the first to cash in.
Just over seven minutes into the period, Tyler Scroggins found the back of the net, with assists from Callan Morisseau and Steven Donaue II to give the Mounties a 3-2 lead.
With their backs against the wall and a Mounties win looking like a sure thing, the Hawks fought back. With just 1:26 remaining in the third period, Mitchell had an unassisted goal on a wrist shot from the left side to tie the score at 3-3.
"We just kept picking each other up,” Buehrer said. “If somebody got down, we picked them right back up. We just had to keep going, keep moving."
Riding a wave of momentum, it seemed like Hendricken had once again banded together and scored another goal just 40 seconds later, but it was taken away due to the net coming loose prior to the puck crossing the line. That sent the game to overtime.
Like the third period, overtime was very intense. Halfway through, Mounties’ senior Ryan Berard went to the box for holding, but Mount successfully killed off the penalty, putting both teams at full strength with 1:57 left.
One minute and four seconds later though, the Mounties turned the puck over in their own zone. After Matt Creamer took a shot that deflected off goalie Brian Larence, Filippone swept in and punched in the rebound for the game-winner with just 1:08 to play. Creamer and Nick Bodziony had assists.
The goal set off a wild celebration on the ice.
"Mount was excellent,” Jim Creamer said. “They gave us all we could handle. We were fortunate to get a rebound there and put one in. The kids are going to make mistakes here and there, but they worked hard from start to finish. I'm happy with this one. It was a great game. Both teams played great. To get down and then come back was a real tribute to us."
It was the Hawks who set the tone early in the game, as they got off to a hot start in the first period.
After controlling play throughout the first seven minutes, Hendricken finally broke through with 7:10 on the clock.
Matt Creamer and Bodziony set up Buehrer, who scored on an odd-man rush to make the score 1-0.
In the second period, the Mounties started to shine.
Nearly two minutes in, Belisle buried a shot in the upper-left corner of the net, with the help of seniors Brian Campbell and Berard to make the score 1-1.
After several impressive stops from Palmer and Larence – who finished with 33 saves – Mount scored again 8:47 into the period. This time, it was off the stick of Donahue. He was assisted by sophomores James Casilli and Scroggins, and the goal gave the Mounties their first lead of the game.
Hendricken wasn’t going away, though. With just over one minute left in the period, the team experienced some déjà vu when Buehrer scored his second goal of the game thanks to some flashy puck movement and assists once again from Creamer and Bodziony.
"Robbie was fantastic tonight,” Jim Creamer said. “His legs were moving and he just played great tonight. He's certainly our leader.”
The game remained tied at two until the fireworks in the third period and overtime lifted Hendricken to the victory.
The Mounties went on to claim game two 3-2 on Saturday night, setting up a winner-take-all third game to be played on Monday night.
The results of Monday’s game were unavailable at press time.