Hooksett, NH- Brian Schultz scored the game-winner fourteen seconds into overtime to lift the Southern Division All-Stars over the Northern Division in a thrilling contest Monday afternoon.
The game started out with both teams flying and though the North had a few excellent scoring chances, the South controlled the play, peppering goaltender Brian Billett with shots.
The Southern Division team finally found a crack in Billett with 4:13 on the clock when Brian Schultz fed Jack Callahan at the point. Callahan ripped a shot that was tipped by Shane Walsh into the net.
The North threatened to put one past goaltender Brad Barone in the waning minutes when Joe Pendenza sent a pass to Joe Wilson in the slot, but Wilson could not finish the play.
The Apple Core quartet of Corey Lillie, Mike Garlasco, Jacob Hoefler, and Arthur Griem, along with Charlie Coyle, pressed hard and took target practice at Billett, but the goalie was equal to the task.
With around 1:30 remaining, Justin Breton, Joe Pendenza and Brad Peltz each had chances to jam the puck home, but Barone slammed the door on each of them to preserve the 1-0 lead going into the first intermission.
The break did little to slow the teams down and once again, but Barone and Billett each turned away every shot.
A faceoff in the South zone provided the opportunity for the North to get on the board. With 2:17 gone in the second, Joe Pendenza won the draw and sent the puck back to Justin Breton, who unleashed a shot from the circle that found its way to the far corner of the net.
Less than two minutes after the North tied the game, Brian Schultz and Chris Wagner had a chance to break the deadlock, but Billet made a pad save on Wagner's shot.
The North's Trent Ruffolo nearly broke the tie in the fifth minute when Jamie Ferullo sent him on a breakaway, but Barone read him perfectly and made the save.
Both goaltenders were relieved midway through the second after stellar performances, and Brian Robbins and Courtney Lockwood took over between the pipes.
The South gave Robbins a rude welcome, scoring with 9:35 on the clock when Jacob Hoefler sent a pass from the corner to Charlie Coyle. Coyle saw Arthur Griem waiting in the slot, fired the puck over, and Griem banged it home.
Despite the early slip-up, Robbins proved to be a brick wall for the rest of the frame. Regardless, the South continued to unload until the final buzzer. John Mousso nearly extended the lead to 3-1 with mere seconds remaining after taking a feed from Colin South, but Robbins made a sprawling save to prevent further damage.
Both Lockwood and Robbins came up big at the beginning of the third period. Robbins added Wagner, Schultz, and Luke Hannon to his list of victims after stopping each of them in a scrum in front of the net.
After the ensuing faceoff, Anton Bernard nearly tied the game, but his shot rang off of Lockwood's mask.
With 10:45 remaining, Luke Hannon scored from a faceoff with assists from Jon Swavley and Will Fredrick.
Just over a minute later, Brice O'Connor sent Ryan Farnan and Joe Wilson skating in on a 2-on-1. Wilson fired the puck and Lockwood made the save, but Farnan pounced on the rebound and shot it top shelf to pull the North within one.
Hannon restored the two-goal lead with 5:40 to play after Fredrick found him in the slot and he pushed the puck past Robbins.
Fifteen seconds later, the North pulled within one when Trent Ruffolo set up Jamie Ferullo along the boards. Ferrulo shot and Zak Stone tipped the puck past Lockwood.
With 2:31 to play, Joe Pendenza won a faceoff in the South zone and shot the puck through Lockwood's legs to send the game to overtime.
Merely 14 seconds into the extra session, Shane Walsh picked up a puck behind the North net and passed to Brian Schultz in the slot. Schultz redirected the puck past Robbins to give the South the win.
The Eastern Junior Hockey League would like to congratulate all participants in the 2009 EJHL All-Star Classic. Special gratitude is extended to the Sean Tremblay and the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs for hosting the festivities, Pop Tops Sportswear for providing the uniforms, and Pepper Sawyer for producing the line charts.
-Mike Klein, 18 January 2010
(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at email@example.com)