KENT — A Tommy Wagner game-winning goal in overtime gave the Western Reserve Academy ice hockey team its first win of the season.
The Pioneers improved to 1-17 with a thrilling 2-1 victory over Greater Cleveland High School Hockey League rival Theodore Roosevelt Thursday at Kent State University Ice Arena.
Wagner’s effort came with 2:28 remaining in the extra period.
Both teams were looking to improve upon disappointing overall records as the Rough Riders entered the game 2-20.
Reserve’s Henry Harkins forced the overtime after netting a game-tying goal with a mere 11 seconds remaining in regulation.
Prior to Harkins’ tally, WRA had ricocheted two shots off the crossbar of the Roosevelt net in the third period.
"That’s the way it has been all year for us," Pioneers head coach Brand Closen said. "We’ve been kind of snake-bitten. I can’t tell you how many times we had an opportunity and hit a crossbar or a pipe."
"I was telling our coaches that the whole season has been a season in which you earn and work to get your own opportunities, but we never had anything go our way. We got lucky, their kid was just trying to clear the zone and Harkins was able to take the shot.
"Both the shot that tied it and the shot that won it were shots we haven’t taken with enough frequency in the year to be successful. Roosevelt played well and that’s a tough way to lose."
"Give those kids credit," Rough Riders head coach Ben Barlow said. "They got to loose pucks and were able to rotate the puck up.
"On that game-tying shot, we had two guys that could have made the save and block the shot outside of (goaltender) Zach Harper, but they didn’t get their body on the puck."
Roosevelt’s lone goal in the contest was scored by sophomore Nick Krestan during a power-play opportunity early in the second period. Freshman Ethan Steffl and senior co-captain Drew Jaggers were credited with assists on the goal.
"Our white line was fantastic," Barlow said. "Cooper Mothersbaugh, Payne Hartman, Liam McLoughlin and Phil Macomber all played extremely well."
While the offensive output of the teams was limited, the defensive effort was noticeable,especially the performance of Western Reserve Academy goaltender Nate Hopkins.
The junior netminder stopped 37 of the 38 shots he faced. Several of those saves were lightning-quick glove saves in the second period.
"Those two second-period glove saves were off the chart and he played really well for us," Closen said.
"What a heartbreaker," Barlow said. "We’re searching for a win and we need one so badly, and unfortunately, that is not the case. It’s disappointing."
Blue Line Notes:
Prior to Thursday night’s contest, Keith Fischer was recognized for his service and dedication to the local hockey community that uses the Kent State Ice Arena. Fischer worked for 22 years at the arena and 31 years overall at Kent State University.
This was the second game between Western Reserve Academy and Roosevelt this season. The Rough Riders won the prior matchup with an identical 2-1 score in December during the Rough Rider Holiday Tournament.
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