Thompson's golden goal lifts Blue Jays over Midgets
The Dickinson High boys hockey team had all of the momentum late in its contest against Jamestown.
Connecting on an equalizer in the waning moments of the third period, the Midgets forced up twice as many shots on goal as their opponent, including a pair of terrific chances during the final minute of regulation.
But in the blink of an eye, the tide tilted toward the Blue Jays' side, thanks to forward Jace Thompson.
The 6-foot sophomore scored the game-winning goal just 29 seconds into overtime as Jamestown prevailed on the road 4-3 on Saturday, Jan. 5, from the West River Ice Center.
On the Blue Jays' first rush up the ice during the extra frame, Thompson finished a 2-on-1 with a backhander by Midgets goaltender Riley Wittenberg.
"I got a pass from Tommy Falk, went down, made a move and scored," Thompson said. "Me and Corey (Nelson) went down and I was going to pass, but he gave me the shot and I just took it. I went backhand, I've done it before and had some good luck, so I just went with it."
Immediately after bringing the game to a close, Thompson was tackled as his teammates piled on top of him.
"It's fun, it's awesome," Thompson said. "It hurt a little bit, but that doesn't matter."
Jamestown was up 3-2 with over six minutes to go in the third when Dickinson senior forward Tanner Giese thought he tied the game after jamming the puck underneath the leg of Blue Jays junior goaltender Riley Gerhardt, but the play was whistled dead before the puck crossed the goal line.
Two minutes later, Giese got his redemption with the assist on the tying goal, finding senior forward Ryan Bren in front of the net for his second goal of the game, knotting things up at three.
After a Jamestown timeout with 59.1 seconds left in the game, Dickinson had two terrific chances to go ahead and steal the victory.
Midgets junior forward Joey Pavek was alone with the puck in the circle to the right of the net, but his wrist shot was stopped by Gerhardt. Shortly thereafter, the puck bounced over to the slot where junior defender Jaren Hugelen rocketed a shot, but again, Gerhardt was in the right place at the right time, making his 47th save on the night.
"Riley had to come up big probably more so tonight than he has in the past in regard to quality opportunities," Jamestown head coach Matt Stockert said. "They had 50 shots on net, but a lot of them were from the perimeter and from the outside, and he can see pucks and all of that good stuff. That's what we ask our goaltenders to do, stop the first one and he did a good job of that tonight."
Four minutes and 31 seconds into the first period, Dickinson opened the game's scoring after Bren buried a rebound off a shot from freshman forward Evan Groll. The home team dominated play early, owning a 10-1 shots-on-goal advantage midway through the frame before a Midgets mistake got the boys in blue on the board.
Following a face-off in their offensive zone, the Midgets turned the puck over when a Pavek pass was intercepted by forward Joe Cummings. Holding off a pair of Midgets, Cummings completed the breakaway, tying the game at 1-1.
Six minutes and 16 seconds into the next frame, Jamestown took its first lead of the game following an unassisted goal from junior forward Easton Hagen. More than two minutes later, Pavek atoned for his error, scoring off a helper from senior defender Morgan Wardner from the point. With under five minutes left in the second, the Blue Jays regained the lead on a goal from Falk.
The Midgets ended the second period with a flurry, but could not reach the back of the net. Dickinson had a 2-on-1 shorthanded rush with Pavek carrying the puck and Groll to his right, but Pavek's shot was denied by Gerhardt. Afterward, senior forward Cody Shepard had a chance in close, but his back-handed chance was deflected away.
Missed opportunities were the theme of the Midgets' night, as Dickinson ended the game with a 50-24 shots-on-goal advantage, but they still fell in defeat.
"We knew (Gerhardt) was a good goaltender and we preached the last few practices not to shoot glove-side. We need to get pucks in front of him, pucks on net, crash the net and do the little things," Midgets head coach Dallas Kuntz said. "Fifty shots on net, but actual quality scoring opponents, I don't think we screened the goalie very well. Frustrating day all the way around, but credit to Jamestown, they're a good young club that's coming on strong and wanted it more than we did."
Dickinson ended the calendar year with six straight victories, but the new year hasn't been as kind. The Midgets have dropped their first two games of 2019, both in overtime.
"We got a couple of non-league games this week, but our next conference game is against (Jamestown). We are going to go to work in practice, we are going to try and correct this," Kuntz said. "Hopefully these guys that the next day and half to figure what team we want to be and we got to move on."
Jamestown 4, Dickinson 3 (OT)
J 1 2 0 1 — 4
D 1 1 1 0 — 3
FIRST PERIOD: 1, D, Ryan Bren (Evan Groll, Brayden Urlacher), 4:31. 1, J, Joe Cummings, J, 12:04.
SECOND PERIOD: 2, J, Easton Hagen, 6:16. 2, D, Pavek (Wardner, E. Groll), 8:53. 3, J, Tommy Falk (Corey Nelson), 11:30.
THIRD PERIOD: 3, D, Bren (Tanner Giese), 12:34.
OVERTIME: 4, J, Jace Thompson, 0:29.
SAVES: J, Riley Gerhardt 15-17-15-0—47. D, Riley Wittenberg 4-7-9-0—20.