Four unanswered goals in the third period, including a late pair from Lain Singer, propelled the top-seeded Newark/Tatnall Yellow Hornets to a 5-3 win over the No. 2 Appoquinimink Jaguars in the 2017-18 Delaware High School Hockey League (DHSHL) championship game, held Friday night (Feb. 23) at the Fred Rust Arena in Newark, Del.
Singer, who led the Hornets in scoring all season with 26 goals, followed his own shot from the right dot with just over five minutes left in regulation to net the game-winning goal for Newark/Tatnall before sealing the victory with an empty-netter in the final minute.
“It came off the back wall; I had an open net,” a jubilant Singer said of his game-winning power-play goal. “It was the greatest three seconds of my life.”
Down 2-0 through the first period after Appoquinimink’s Shane Hindt and Aiden Kurych crashed the left side of the net for a pair of successful redirects past Newark/Tatnall goalie Ty Hutchinson, the Hornets started to find their mojo a bit in the middle frame. With five minutes left in the middle period, Drew Iannucci carried the puck in from the left dot for a bar-down goal from close range, but Appoquinimink’s Jonny Schwarz responded with a short-handed breakaway at 13:11 to put his Jaguars up 3-1 at the conclusion of the second.
A holding penalty against Paul Army which drew objections from the Appoquinimink bench prior was followed by another which elicited similar reactions—this one assessed to Schwarz at 10:28 in the third period after Newark/Tatnall tied the score in the first half of the third period. Both Jason Roux and Luke Headman batted pucks past Dylan Hadley to help the resurgent Hornets close the gap on the Jaguars. With leading scorer Schwarz sidelined for a holding minor, Singer fired a one-timer from the right dot off a feed from Iannucci, followed his rebound off the boards in, and batted the puck past Hadley for the go-ahead goal at 10:52.
“We didn’t play the best first periods that we could,” Singer continued. “We were just throwing the puck whenever we got it, but we hustled back. We stopped playing ‘me’ hockey. We started passing and moving the puck.”
Not only did the Hornets’ offensive firepower improve in the third period, but a strong backcheck helped them preserve their late lead. Following Singer’s ultimate game-winning goal, the Appoquinimink side unleashed a flurry of shots on Hutchinson in the last few minutes but could not negotiated a congested low slot—not even with an extra attacker on for the final minute and a half. With an empty net 160 feet away, Singer intercepted a shot from the left point in mid-slot, carried the puck to just inside his own blue line, and launched it into an empty net with 39 seconds to go to ice the Hornets’ championship win.
Singer was the only player to score multiple goals in the game, and also registered an assist while Iannucci earned two assists along with his second-period goal. Hutchinson made 34 saves in victory while Hadley recorded 25 stops in defeat.