By Larry Moko
It’s the rarest of sights in high school hockey.
A 3-on-3 overtime was needed to decide a winner when the St. John Henry Newman Cardinals faced the Bishop Tonnos Titans in a Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic girls’ playoff game Wednesday.
The second-place Cardinals and the third-place Titans were tied 2-2 after regulation time at Gateway Ice Centre. They then played a five-minute overtime period at five skaters aside. When that didn’t produce a goal, the teams played 4-on-4 for another five minutes. Still no change.
Then, at 3-on-3, Newman’s Vanessa Upson scored on a breakaway with 38 seconds remaining in that five-minute session to give the Cardinals a 3-2 semifinal victory.
Newman will take on the St. Mary Crusaders for the league title on Tuesday, March 3 at Morgan Firestone Arena. First-place St. Mary captured the other semifinal, 4-1, over the Bishop Ryan Celtics.
“It was tight for three periods and it took us three more periods to recognize a winner,” Newman coach Tony Mamone said. “It was a very good game.”
Upson, a Grade 11 centre and rep player for the Stoney Creek Junior Sabres, took a long pass up the middle from defenceman Payton Bennett to race in and score the tie-breaker on a clever deke.
Games can end in ties during regular-season high school hockey games. Only in the playoffs are overtimes necessary. But most of the time they don’t last for as long as 15 minutes.
“You have to have played 3-on-3 before to know what to do (where to be and when),” the Newman coach said. “It’s not usually done in high school or a lot in rep or even house league hockey.”
Mamone said it was a heads-up pass by Bennett to spring Upson into the clear.
“That was a phenomenal goal,” he said. “Vanessa has got solid hands. Give her open ice and I’ll bank on her any time.”
Tonnos opened the scoring when Jenna Duarte intercepted a pass in the Newman zone and weaved her way towards the crease before snapping a 10-foot shot past netminder Megan Warrener.
Ryler Melander then swiped in a loose puck in the crease area to tie the score before the end of the first period.
In the second, a wraparound goal by Upson gave Newman a 2-1 lead. Twenty-eight seconds later, however, Leah Abradjian replied by sliding a shot along the ice that found the net from about 12 feet.
Said Mamone: “We kept in the game just out of sheer grit. There were times when BT was the better team out there. We had some really good goaltending that got us through.”
Newman and Tonnos split their two meetings during the regular schedule – 3-2 Tonnos, then 3-1 Newman.
“A lot of girls on these two teams know each other,” Mamone said. “It’s a fun but very competitive game every time we come up against each other.
“We lost to them in the championship last year.”
Newman defeated St. Mary, 3-1, in their first meeting of the regular scheduled before the Crusaders rebounded for a 4-2 win.
Source: Marnie Jadon