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Overtime Mayem takes over the weekend in WCHA Hockey




Unlike its NCAA brethren in hoops, baseball and football, the settlement of draws on sudden death is a staple in college hockey. The more appropriate nickname would be Sudden Joy, the raw emotion of 15 teammates hopping to the boards for a dog-hop party at one end of the track. Three such skate-off blasts took place on WCHA ice this past weekend, as Huntsville, Bemidji, and Lake Superior State took victories by working overtime. Each game had its own gripping storyline; each ended in an instant.

Act I: Ferris State vs Alabama Huntsville

At the Von Braun center, more than 1,100 fans could see the Chargers home opener, including packs of hyper hockey kids in team jerseys that never stopped shaking. Sufficient electricity was generated by nine goals and three lead changes. The fact that neither contestant had to claim another win this season made the action and the actors all the more desperate.

Just doing overtime required a near-miracle from the Chargers, as evidenced by this scintillating score from Chargers Ben Allen. The junior forward sprinted 100 feet in the final seconds to avert defeat, collect a pass on his backhand and take a wrist shot in one move.

A unique scenario resulted: two clubs competing for their first victory of the season in sudden death, a 3v3 variation that makes scoring the decisive goal seemingly inevitable. In other words, one of these clubs had to give in. And Ferris was in a rush, whistling to too many men halfway through the five-minute OT session.

Rather than removing a Bulldog, the 3-vs-3 protocol dictates that the affected team add a player, giving Hunstville a four-out-of-three advantage. The Chargers wasted no time and hurled the puck over the hashmarks into Dayne Finnson’s wheelhouse. The UAH junior rammed the biscuit onto the top shelf, unleashing a crowd of white jerseys that nearly swallowed the linesman.

Act II: Bemidji State in Bowling Green

The closest hockey venue to Huntsville is Bowling Green, an eight-and-a-half hour bus ride north through Louisville. While the Chargers fought the Bulldogs, Bowling Green sought to extend its nine-game winning streak against a formidable Bemidji State club. The Beavers jumped the Falcons at the start of the extra session, and Bowling Green never recovered.

The loss, which has become extremely rare during Ty Eigner’s rule of northern Ohio, dropped the Falcons to eighth place in the USCHO national poll.

Act III: Lake Superior State in Northern Michigan

This was a story of two clubs going in opposite directions. While the Lakers have jumped to a 6-1-3 record and flirted with the national polls, the talented but snake-bite Wildcats have made a habit of shooting themselves in the foot, with just two wins to accompany their six defeats.

Saturday night’s Upper Peninsula rivalry game with Lake Superior was a microcosm of their respective seasons. Northern jumped to a 2-0 lead, but the Lakers struck away with two goals in the third period from junior Pete Veillette, tying the score with less than three minutes to play. In extra time, the Cats received an unnecessary penalty, something that has become routine for this northern club. Again, it took them on the scoreboard.

The Lakers took advantage of the 4-on-3 advantage, while Frenchman hit Louis Boudon in the OT thriller. It sparked a lengthy Laker party behind the Wildcat net.

The joy of the Laker was inversely related to the woes of the Wildcat, as bank boss Grant Potulny must put out fires from both the crease and the box.

Three WCHA dramas were set this weekend, the fortune of six clubs taking serious turns for better or worse, all in the heightened realm of sudden death.

Tim Rappleye is the author of two books: Jack Parker’s Wiseguys and Hobey Baker, on closer examination. You can find him on Twitter.

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