Newark, Del. — After using a three-goal third period to escape a 2-0 deficit, the Appoquinimink Jaguars (9-5-1) sealed second place in the Inter-County Scholastic Hockey League (ICSHL) Liberty South Division with a 4-3 overtime win over St. Mark’s (8-6-3) on Friday night (Feb. 22) at the Patriot Ice Center.
After Jaguars’ centre Jonny Schwarz tied the game at three with a wraparound goal in the final 2:15 of regulation, he capped the come-from-behind win with a net-front tip of a Paul Army shot just 18 seconds into overtime for his 15th seasonal goal.
But it took both sides a while to generate momentum, having been kept scoreless by goalies Dylan Hadley and Billy Pierce through the first 30:32.
A testy first period with multiple altercations saw 18 minutes in penalties doled out, and while tempers cooled in the second, the goalies did not. Pierce kept Appoquinimink scoreless on 13 second-period shots, including a two-on-zero scoring chance which saw Aiden Kurych denied on a 12-foot wrist shot with 4:25 left in the period. Three minutes later, Will Ralsten put the Spartans on the board with a net-front deflection of a Jimmy Paoli shot.
The Spartans took full advantage of a two-man advantage early in the third period to double their lead when Kelly Stroik redirected a Lance Ralsten shot from the left point while Appoqunimink defencemen Jared Brenner and Connor Garrison were serving tripping and cross-checking minors, respectively, but their 2-0 lead was not safe. Army got one back for the Jaguars by way of a cannon from just above the left dot with 6:17 left in regulation, and Nathan Panchisin tied the game at two with a power-play goal off the rebound of a Schwarz shot from just in front of St. Mark’s netminder Billy Pierce only a minute later.
While Ralsten regained the lead for St. Mark’s at 12:23 by finishing a Stroik centring pass from the left edge of the crease, Schwarz came roaring back for the game-tying and game-winning goals, setting up Appoquinimink’s home playoff game against Springford on Monday (Feb. 25) in just the Jaguars’ first ICSHL season.
Hadley recorded 22 saves on 25 shots in victory, while Pierce stopped 30 of 34 in defeat.
The Appoquinimink/Springford game will air on Delaware Hockey Night Radio following the conclusion of Salesianum/Archbishop Ryan, while St. Mark’s will travel to Oaks, Pa., also on Monday, to take on Owen J. Roberts in the first round of the eight-team Liberty playoffs.