Shepard seals it: Senior scores game-winner in double overtime as Midgets squeak by Jamestown
MINOT -- Describing the difference between the Dickinson and Jamestown boys hockey teams over the previous two seasons is about as effective as splitting hairs, but at the end of their last three contests, the Blue Jays walked back into their loc...
MINOT - Describing the difference between the Dickinson and Jamestown boys hockey teams over the previous two seasons is about as effective as splitting hairs, but at the end of their last three contests, the Blue Jays walked back into their locker room each time with a 4-3 victory in hand.
What makes the results that much more frustrating for the Midgets, is that after a loss to Jamestown in the opening round of last season's West Region tournament, Dickinson has fallen twice in overtime this season to its WDA nemesis.
As the two teams squared off again for a quarterfinal clash during the 2019 WDA tournament, the game followed the same script as those last three meetings: a 4-3 final that needed to be decided past regulation.
But this time, the Midgets finally orchestrated a different ending.
"Two overtime losses to 'em, that's a team the whole year we've been preparing to beat," Dickinson senior forward Cody Shepard. "Just working for it, being able to get into OT again and put one away, I don't know what to say; it's a great feeling."
One minute and seven seconds into double overtime, Shepard skated up the left side of the rink, squared up to the net once he entered the offensive zone and ripped a wrist shot by Jamestown junior goaltender Riley Gerhardt, lifting the Midgets to a 4-3 victory on Thursday, Feb. 14, from the Pepsi Rink at the MAYSA Arena.
"The team worked so hard," Shepard said. "It took three guys to break the puck out. Once we got it out, I was able to gain some room. Their (defender) stepped back a little too far and I was able to pull inside. The goalie was over too far, didn't come out the crease, and I had the whole top of the net open, and (the puck) hit the back of the net. Just being a senior, and to know that we have a chance to advance on, it's an amazing feeling."
Dickinson's victory came in a comeback variety, as the lower-seeded team needed two goals in the third period to tie the game at 3-3. Midway through the frame, Midgets senior forward captain Ryan Bren led the charge, scoring his second goal of the game on a rebound off a Shepard shot.
Less than 90 seconds later, Bren fired a blast from near the left point that bounced off the boards. Closing in from the right side of the goalie, junior center Joey Pavek, who had helpers on Dickinson's first two goals, tapped in the rebound for the equalizer.
"It just shows the heart of our team," DHS head coach Dallas Kuntz said. "We started the season, we were like a thin piece of aluminum. As the season went on, with the adversity that we went through, we harden and harden. I saw a thick piece of steel out there from our team, they just did not break. ... I'm sick of 4-3 games against Jamestown, I hope this kind of breaks the curse today."
A player that has particularly been a thorn in Dickinson's side is Jamestown forward Jace Thompson. Prior to Thursday's game, Thompson had scored three times against the orange and black, including both overtime game-winners this season.
As the action shifted to a neutral site, Thompson's exploits did not miss a beat. Giving the Blue Jays a 2-1 lead with a pair of goals in the second, the sophomore completed his hat trick early in the third, rocketing a wrister from a few feet behind the circle to the left of Dickinson senior goaltender Riley Wittenberg.
However, with a 3-1 advantage and less than 10 minutes, the higher-seeded squad could not hold on.
"It was a typical Jamestown-Dickinson battle, that's the way it's been all year. It's what we do, it's funny how it always works out with Dickinson and Jamestown that way," Blue Jays assistant coach Don Walz said. "You can go over and find little things all over the place that we did wrong. There are things that we did really well today, too. You can't dwell on it, you got to look forward to tomorrow and get the next win. That's the way we have to go."
With 14 saves, Wittenberg earned the victory in net, earning his finest stop toward the end of the first overtime as Thompson came up empty on a one-on-one scoring chance.
Gerhardt was far more active as Dickinson out-shot Jamestown 56-17. The junior netminder collected 52 saves, including 13 after regulation. Bearing down from the left of Gerhardt, Pavek had excellent to end the game during the first overtime, but Gerhardt, nearly diagonal to the ice, gloved Pavek's shot, drawing applause from both sides of the crowd.
"For the record, he gives me a headache, he really does," Kuntz said. "If he sees the shot, he's going to save it. He's a top-notched goaltender; he plays his angles really well. He's a beast. He's a big guy."
No. 5 Dickinson 4, No. 4 Jamestown 3 (2OT)
D 1 0 2 0 1 - 4
J 0 2 1 0 0 - 3
FIRST PERIOD: 1, D, Ryan Bren (Joey Pavek), 4:19.
SECOND PERIOD: 1, J, Jace Thompson (Tommy Falk, Corey Nelson), 1:17. 2, J, Thompson (Nelson), 6:43 PP.
THIRD PERIOD: 3, J, Thompson (Nelson), 1:08 PP. 2, D, Bren (Cody Shepard, Pavek), 8:31. 3, D, Pavek (Bren, Landon Aman), 9:49.
OVERTIME: No scoring.
SECOND OVERTIME: 4, D, Shepard, 1:17.
SAVES: D, Riley Wittenberg 5-3-2-4-14. J, Riley Gerhardt 13-15-11-13-52.