The OPRF hockey club opened the Metro West playoffs on Sunday night and turned the affair into a barn-burning 5-5 tie against Hinsdale South.
After senior Matt McDonnell scored his second goal of the night a minute into the third period, the Huskies found themselves in unfamiliar territory?#34;ahead by a 5-2 score and sitting on a three-goal lead. Unfortunately for the Huskies, Hinsdale South stormed back, firing 23 shots on goal in the final period, eventually tying the game at 5-5 in the final minute of play.
The Huskies started out strong, taking a 2-0 first period lead on goals by Mike Slovak and Kenny Javor. Slovak scored on a power play, taking Jack Brofman’s pass from behind the net and blasting a slap shot from the top of the face-off circle. Javor scored on a wrist shot set up when Andy Dirgo dug the puck out of the corner.
Hinsdale South cut the lead to 2-1 early in the second period, scoring on a 2-on-1 rush, but McDonnell’s shorthanded goal with 3:06 remaining pushed the Huskies’ lead up 3-1. Taking a pass from Slovak, McDonnell flew down the right side the ice, cut left in front of the Hornet goalie, and backhanded the puck into the net.
Each team scored in the last minute of the period, with Hinsdale South striking on the power play with a shot that popped up over goalie Bob Grayson’s shoulder and into the net. The Huskies answered right back when Brofman’s outlet pass sent Dirgo up the ice. Dirgo’s shot from a tough angle was stopped, but Brett Newman was trailing the play and was in perfect position to bang home the rebound.
After McDonnell’s goal at the beginning of the third period, the Huskies’ offense stalled while the Hornets’ offense went into high gear. Two quick goals cut the Huskies’ lead to 5-4 with 8 minutes remaining. Hinsdale South kept the pressure on the Huskies, forcing Grayson to make several spectacular saves. When the Huskies killed a penalty with 3:25 remaining, it looked like they might hold on for a win. However, the Hornets finally got the puck past Grayson, scoring on a 3-on-2 rush with 55 seconds left.
The Huskies have three more Metro West playoff games against the remaining teams in their playoff bracket. They face off next weekend against St. Charles North and St. Charles East and against Waubonsie Valley on Saturday, Feb. 11. At the conclusion of these games, the two teams with the best records will advance to play teams from other Metro conferences.
A press release contributed to this report.
Correction: In a story that ran last week, OPRF Hockey Club goalkeeper Bob Grayson was misidentified. Wednesday Journal regrets the error.