By Mike Shalin - March 18, 2005
Things really couldn?t have looked worse for the Junior Warriors at Holy Cross Thursday night.
Down, 3-1, in the third period of the second game of a Quarterfinal Round EJHL playoff series against New York Apple Core, Andy Heinze?s team knew a tie wouldn?t even be good enough to advance to the Semifinals. Beyond that, even a win would only mean they?d have to play a 20-minute mini-game ? and perhaps beyond.
The odds were long ? but the Warriors came through like ? well, Warriors.
?It really was special what these kids were able to do,? Heinze would say after the game. ?They just never gave up. Our guys kept working at it and working at it and then they got it done.?
In overtime. After pulling goalie DJ Del Buono (Westborough, MA) in the final minute of a tie game, Heinze saw David Strathman (Tempe, AZ) scored on a breakaway with 31 seconds left in the mini-game and and Joe Cucci (Bloomingdale, IL) finish off a hat trick to produce a 1-1 mini-game tie -- then jumped into the air when Dan Rossman (Boxford, MA) one-timed the winner into the Apple Core net at 3:01 of sudden death.
The result saw the Warriors, in their first playoff appearance after a two year hiatus; move on in the EJHL playoffs, which now break into single-elimination Semi Final Round games. VJW was set to play Sunday at 3 against an undetermined opponent.
Heinze called it the most dramatic win of his head coaching career.
It all started with the Warriors surrendering four power-play goals (two during 5-on-3s) in a 7-3 loss to the Core Tuesday night. Mark Roebothan (St John?s, NFLD) scored two goals, Cucci had a goal and an assist and Rossman two assists in that one.
The New York team bused home after that game and then had to return for Thursday?s Game 2. The Core had the jump early, but the game was scoreless after one. New York went up, 1-0, at the 9:06 mark of the second period before Ryan Leary tied it on the power play a minute later ? Phil Pinter and Will Schaetzl on the assists.
The Core went up, 2-1, later in the period and then 3-1 just 37 seconds into the third. Cucci scored at 10:26 (off a scramble from Eric Scovill and Roebothan) and again at 13:18 (Roebothan and Strathman) but that was it ? and Heinze had to go for it in the final minute.
Strathman blocked a shot at the blue line, walked in and waited patiently before roofing the tying goal. The Warriors had life.
Apple Core, which somehow still had legs, scored 3:46 into the mini game but Cucci, from Rossman and Roebothan, got it back at 11:06 ? and the mini-game ended with The Core outshooting the Warriors, 13-6, and Del Buono strong in goal.
On the second shift of OT, J.C. Velasquez got a penalty, that was killed off ? and Rossman replaced the player out of the box, joined the rush and Cucci and Roebothan assisted on the winning one-timer.
?They were excited ? and they were exhausted,? Heinze said of his players. ?That was just such a great way to win a league playoff hockey game. It was either win now or go home until next season. We played some intense offensive desperate hockey in that third period and it paid off for us. They showed me a lot being down late in the game like that.?