PROVIDENCE -- There will be a Game 3.
Mount St. Charles forced a third and deciding game in its best-of-three State Championship title series with Bishop Hendricken on Saturday night before another large crowd at Providence Collegeâ€™s Schneider Arena.
Steve Donahueâ€™s goal 1:12 into the third period and goalie Brian Larenceâ€™s spectacular 34-save effort were the differences in the Mountiesâ€™ crucial 3-2 win that kept their quest for a fifth straight state title (and 43rd in the teamâ€™s storied history) alive.
Both teams will be back at PC on Monday for a 7:30 p.m. showdown for all the marbles, and like Saturdayâ€™s duel, this one promises to be a hard-hitting battle that will see both teams leaving it all on the ice.
The Mounties, who 24 hours earlier, dropped a 4-3 overtime verdict to the Hawks (their third OT contest in a seven-day stretch), put any fatigue they may have had aside and came through in the clutch.
They were also sparked by their top scorer, junior center Brian Belisle, who was questionable for the contest with a left leg injury that he suffered on an open-ice check 27 seconds into the third period of Fridayâ€™s game.
Belisle, who received plenty of ice and physical therapy on Saturday, was still nowhere near 100 percent, but he still skated on the first line and netted the nightâ€™s first goal, an unassisted, power-play score 7:15 into the game.
This contest, as expected, was a physical battle from start to finish and saw both teams rack up their share of penalties. The Hawks received seven for 14 minutes (four penalties in the first period), while the Mounties got six for 12 minutes (three in the final 12 minutes).
Down 1-0, the Hawks tied the score 7:22 into the second period when Dan Nolte fired a shot from the side of the net that sailed past Larenceâ€™s glove, but 22 seconds later, Ryan Berard gave MSC back its lead by one-timing a pass from behind the net by Brian Campbell past Hawks goalie Bill Palmer.
Donahueâ€™s goal, his second in as many nights, came off a pass from Brandon Borges and saw him unleash a slap shot from the point that whistled through traffic and past Palmer.
At 4:18, the Hawks made it a one-goal contest on an unassisted, power-play goal by Paul Filippone, who got off an unbalanced shot (with Mountâ€™s James Casilli on his back) that slipped past Larence.
But Larence was rock-solid the rest of the way. With less than four minutes to play, he kept Mountâ€™s one-goal lead intact by making huge saves on shots by Bob Buehrer and Filippone, and with less than two minutes left, he made two more big saves during a Hendricken power play.