A quick start on Wednesday made for a solemn graduation of St. Mary's Knights.
After a 2-0 lead in the first half of the game, the Knights beat the Superior Heights Steelhawks 5-0 at the John Rhodes Community Center to play the High School Hockey League's best-of-three semi-final in straight games.
"The fast start was enormous," said Knights winger Josh Gavey, whose team needed four overtime on Monday to beat Superior Heights 3-2 at the inaugural race.
"We knew if we could kick them out early, we might have a chance to clear them out," added Knights head coach Mike Oliveira, whose team is the three-time defending city champion.
One of the reasons for this is the emotional loss Monday suffered on Monday for the Steelhawks, who finished the regular season in fourth place in the Foursquare.
As tough as the Steelhawks began – they scored both goals on Monday in the final two minutes of the third half – Gavey's 2:59 in No. 4 OT brought in Superior Heights.
If you lose in the fourth overtime, "this is an emotional roller coaster ride," said Steelhawks head coach Tanner Rutland. "The boys are up, they are playing well and then it is the immediate deflation."
Launching the series not only brought out emotions from Superior Heights, but also tiring the team, Rutland said.
With a short bench, the Steelhawks skate only seven forward and five defenders.
Chuck Webb scored early in the first half on Wednesday, and Gavey, who finished the day with two goals and two assists, beat out-winning home star Zach Tarantini late in the game.
Center Colby Arbor's power play marker, who finished 5:22 before the end in the second half, was the key to the winners. That gave the knights a 3-0 lead.
"We came out and played a lot harder than on Monday," said Arbor, a two-meter-long, 178-pounder. "We worked as a team, made many shots on the net and kept putting them under pressure. We came back hard into the defensive zone and broke clean. "
Caden Caputo had the other goal for the winners, while Webb ended with a goal and an assist. Dale Armstrong had two assists, and Travis Johnson shut down the net.
"We are a very close team, we have a lot of talents and we all get along," added Gavey, a 140-pound five-foot-ten team. "We all pull together."
Gavey used the word "great" to describe how he felt after hitting the dramatic hit on Monday.
Oliveira liked the emotions and intensity with which his team played in Game 2.
"We often try to rely on our skills to win games," the coach said. "But it does not work that way. You have to compete and we did a lot better today (Wednesday). "
Oliveira also paid tribute to the Steelhawks for their performance and found that the Knights' opponents had come out tough in both games.
"Our children do not know what the word Quit means," said Rutland, who praised Tarantini. "These were the best consecutive games he played all year."
On Monday, Arbor and Carter Magee-Marenger had the other goals for the Knights.
Josh Mannarino helped with all three goals of the winners, while Kyle Finateri had two assists. Gabe Spina had both goals for the Steelhawks, while Ethan West supported both.
In the other match on Wednesday, Noah Sehovic, Connor Caruso and Michael Neveau each scored a goal and an assist as Korah finished 4: 2 at Central Algoma Secondary School in this best-of-three semi-final.
Ty Zachary had the other goal and Mateo Perri brought in two assists. Dawson Hunter stood between the pipes for the winners.
Caden King had a goal for CASS, Nick Purnis had the other goal. Tyler Greco scored the goal for the Huskies.
Game 2 of the series is scheduled for Thursday at 8pm. in Rhodes Center.