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Boys hockey: Titans’ third period carves up Polars
The Classic Suburban Conference boys hockey game Wednesday, Feb. 5, at Polar Arena featuring archrivals Tartan and North was a make-up game of an earlier contest postponed because of cold weather.
The Titans offset two early goals by the Polars to pull ahead in the third period and win going away, 7-3.
Tartan’s four unanswered goals in the final 17 minutes made the difference for the second time in two meetings this season. Tartan gained a 7-4 win in the first outing between the rivals on Dec. 12.
Leading the Tartan attack on Wednesday was senior centerman Brady O’Sullivan, who had a three-goal hat trick and added an assist for a four-point night.
“It felt good. It always feels good to beat your rival, especially when it is your senior year,” said the smiling O’Sullivan after the game. “I really thought it would be a lot closer game than this. Especially after the start we had.”
Sullivan wasn’t sure if he had 55 or 56 points after the game with North. He thought the two goals brought him to 24 goals.
The Polars brought their fans to their feet early in the game when they scored two goals in the first 24 seconds. From that point on, the game turned into a good old-fashioned bruhaha. It stayed that way through the two periods as the teams skated to a 3-3 tie.
In the third period, Titans came out looking like they wanted the win more as they outshot the Polars 17-7 and scored four unanswered goals.
“We had a good game for two periods,” offered North veteran coach Jerry Diebel. “We played too many times shorthanded and that hurt us. They took advantage of our shortfalls. I’m glad it is over.
“Games like this against Tartan are always too intense. I’m just glad it is over.”
Tartan coach Steve Romanchuk said, “We got down early, but our kids played through it. They didn’t panic.
“They worked really hard and came back hard. That they won is a credit to their ability to keep working hard for the whole game.”
Polars came out firing
The opening tally came when North’s Jimmy Salava fed the puck to Justin Oliver, who relayed it to twin Tyler Oliver who from the top of the left circle banged a shot off the pads. The rebound caromed to Justin Oliver who buried it in the back twines, just 16 seconds into the fray.
The cheers had not yet subsided when the trio sped up-ice on the ensuing faceoff. This time it was Justin and Tyler Oliver feeding the puck to Salava who stuffed it over the goal line. Eight seconds after the first goal and just 24 seconds into the game it was 2-0 North.
The action continued back and forth until nine minutes later Tartan’s Zach Wydra fed the puck to Derek Sievers who buried it in the North net at 9:20.
Play moved into the second period and passes from the sticks of Brandon Ayde and Sievers found the blade of Brady O’Sullivan who made a good deke in the deep slot before firing inside the left post for the 2-2 Tartan tally at 3:03.
A rash of penalties came next and during one of them an up-ice feed from Tartan defenseman Zach Moore found a breaking Zach Ledman who beat the goalie for a shorthanded goal at 13:28
North came back on a power play when Luke Kubiatowicz sent a pass to Maverick Meister cruising down the slot. A quick wrister slid under the crossbar for the 3-3 goal at 14:05.
Penalties peppered third quarter
Fans didn’t have to wait long before the Titans took the lead for good. Ledman sent the puck in on goal. The rebound was steered back by Rusty Axtman and a second save was made. The second rebound, however, was unstoppable as Brady O’Sullivan banged the puck home for what turned out to be the game-winner at 1:03.
Again the Titans had a man in the penalty box, and again they mounted an offensive attack.
Brady O’Sullivan sprung both Connor O’Sullivan and Axtman loose up-ice. Connor O’Sullivan fed Axtman down the slot. Using Connor for a decoy, the wily winger sailed a whistler high inside the right pipe for the 5-3 shorthanded tally at 8:45.
The Titans were now roused and couldn’t be stopped. Again they attacked the North end of the rink and again it paid dividends when from a faceoff to the left of the North net on a power play, feeds from Axtman and Ledman found Brady O’Sullivan.
The centerman fired a laser shot that sizzled the back twines 14:25 for his three-goal hat trick and the 6-3 goal.
The game ended almost as it began with two quick goals, only this time it was Tartan. Again a faceoff to the left of the North net saw Sievers slide the puck through the crease to Dan Betz who one-timed the puck to the far reaches just 35 seconds after the last score.
Betz’ tally came at 14:59 and put the 7-3 final on the board.
Both Tartan and North have one game remaining in the regular season. North will host St. Thomas Academy at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 18, at Polar Arena.
Tartan will be at home in a non-conference game against Irondale at 3:45 p.m. Feb. 18.
Tartan and North will begin Section 4AA play Saturday, Feb. 22, at Aldrich Arena.
Wally Wakefield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org