Boys hockey: Naperville North rallies past Sandburg
By Dan Ruane For Sun-Times Media March 3, 2013 7:37PM
Updated: March 3, 2013 7:38PM
For most of two periods on Sunday, Naperville North was skating backwards more than forward. The Huskies had been outplayed and outshot by Sandburg and were trailing 2-0.
That all turned around in the third period as the Huskies started pounding Sandburg goalie Taylor Dignan with shots. Naperville North caught up and then won the game 3-2 in an overtime shootout to even its Illinois West Cup championship series 1-1. The decisive third game still needs to be determined when and where it will take place.
“We’ve been outplayed pretty much the whole series,’’ Naperville North coach Brian Noonan said. “Dignan is one of the best goalies in Illinois. We had to get pucks at him and hope he had a bad day.”
Nobody took the get-shots on-goal message more to heart than Sean McDonnell. The senior forward started blasting away at Dignan every chance that he got and it eventually paid off.
He set up Naperville North’s first goal when he fired a low slap-shot that Dignan made a pad save on, but Cody Mersman was waiting for the rebound on the right side and he slid it home to cut the lead to 2-1 early in the third period.
“Between (the second and third) periods, coach told us to start shooting more,” McDonnell said. “I think the early goal startled (Dignan) a little bit.”
Just over two minutes later, McDonnell knotted the game up at 2-2 with a slap-shot from the blue line that Dignan never saw through the screen of his own defenders.
That brought the game to an overtime shootout with each team getting five players to take a shot. Only Naperville North captain Paul Mascitti found the back of the net with a fake forehand and then backhand move between the goalie’s pads for the game winner.
“Noonan taught me that move,” Mascitti said. “I mix it up but that’s my go-to move in a big situation.”
Sandburg (46-13-3) outshot the Huskies 26-12 through the first two periods. The only thing keeping Naperville North (41-13-6) in the game was the play of goalie Mario Ritchie, who had several difficult save opportunities.
The Eagles struck first when David Christel snapped home a high shot with 2:13 left in the first period. Ethan Pelesky followed that with a rebound goal with 27 seconds remaining in the first period.
“Mario really stepped it up for us today,” Noonan said. “We will need to play a better whole game to beat them again.”