PROVIDENCE â€” This time, overtime was not Mount St. Charlesâ€™s time to shine.
For the past five postseasons, overtime had belonged to the Mounties, who won eight straight OT contests during that stretch, but on Friday night, they saw that run come to a bitter end in the opening game of their best-of-three State Championship title series with Bishop Hendricken.
Paul Filipponeâ€™s goal off the rebound of a shot from Nick Bodziony with 53 seconds remaining in the first 7Â˝-minute overtime session gave the Hawks a hard-fought 4-3 triumph and control of the series before a large gathering at Providence Collegeâ€™s Schneider Arena.
The Hawks will try to sew up their first state crown since 2007 and only the third in its history in tonightâ€™s Game 2 at 7:30 p.m. back at PC, but if Mount manages to even the series, a winner-take-all duel will take place on Monday at 7:30 p.m.
â€śWeâ€™ve been in this position [in last weekâ€™s best-of-three semifinals] against La Salle and we bounced back,â€ť remarked MSC coach Dave Belisle. â€śWeâ€™ll do our best to tie the series and send it to a third game.â€ť
Belisle was visibly upset after the game, and it wasnâ€™t because of the manner in which the Hawks scored their game-winning goal. Bodziony picked off an errant pass in front of the Mountiesâ€™ net and fired a shot on MSC goaltender Brian Larence. He was able to stop it, but not Filipponeâ€™s quick second shot.
Rather, it was a leg injury to his top scorer and his son, junior center Brian Belisle, 27 seconds into the third period that had him steaming. Belisle took a hard check to his left leg by a Hendricken player that dropped him to the ice and kept him there for five minutes as he received medical attention.
He returned to the bench with some assistance from a trainer and was back in action less than four minutes later, but was clearly favoring his leg for the rest of the game.
â€śIt was a dirty leg check and it changed the whole momentum of the game,â€ť said the MSC coach. â€śBrian shouldnâ€™t have even played in the third period. He took shifts he shouldnâ€™t have taken.â€ť
Belisle didnâ€™t rule out his sonâ€™s return for todayâ€™s game, but he didnâ€™t sound overly optimistic about it.
â€śI really donâ€™t think heâ€™s going to go, and if he does play, heâ€™s going to be at 50 percent,â€ť said Belisle. â€śWeâ€™ll get his leg looked at, and Iâ€™ll take him up to Boston if I have to. Right now, thereâ€™s so much swelling that I canâ€™t tell how bad it is. But it was a cheap hit, and it changed the whole series right there.â€ť
In the final minutes of regulation, it looked like Callan Morisseau was going to be the hero of the night for Mount. He broke a 2-2 tie by backhanding the rebound of a shot by Tyler Scroggins during a scramble for the puck in front of the net with 7:18 to play.
But with 1:26 on the clock, and the Hawks on the verge of calling a timeout to discuss pulling their goalie, Bill Palmer, for an extra skater, they knotted the score on an unassisted goal by David Mitchell.
They nearly went ahead with 50.9 seconds to go when it appeared that Bob Buehrer had scored his third goal of the night, but the score was waved off because the net was slightly disloged.
Buehrer gave the Hawks an early lead after a period of play by scoring on a 2-on-1 break with Matt Creamer. Buehrer caught Larence reaching a bit too far for the puck in front of the net, and he managed to easily flip it past him.
The Mounties then tied the contest 58 seconds into the second period when Belisle lit the map in the final seconds of a power play. He took a nice cross-ice pass from Ryan Berard and one-timed a shot over Palmerâ€™s blocker.
At 8:47 of the period, the Mounties pulled ahead on a score by an unlikely source, defenseman Steve Donahue, who netted his four goal of the season on one of the weakest shots of the night.
The Riverside residentâ€™s soft shot from the side of the goal deflected off the skate of a Hawks defenseman and trickled to the right of Palmerâ€™s stick and into the back of the goal.
But the Hawks knotted the score with 1:12 to play on a partial breakway by Buehrer, and the game remained tied until both teams swapped goals in the dramatic final 15 minutes to force the 4-on-4 overtime session.