By Dave Ricci
Special to The News
Gehrig Lindberg’s helmet cracked on the final shot of the game. He didn’t mind though because he scored the game winner in the process.
Lindberg, a freshman, netted the game winning goal with 23 seconds left in overtime as East Aurora/Holland notched a 5-4 win over Depew to win the small school title as part of the 34th WNY Club Hockey Championship that was played at KeyBank Center Friday night.
It marks the first club hockey title for the program.
Cory Scull and Brock Roland (three assists) set up Lindberg as his shot went five-hole on Depew goalie Austin Pyc. It was sweet redemption for Lindberg, who had missed on five other scoring chances earlier in the game. Including ringing a shot off the post moments before his goal.
“Nice trickle right there. I needed it,” Lindberg said.
“I’ve been getting a ton of shots this game. I probably had five or six good shots that went through, getting tips.”
Goals by Ian Edbauer and Tyler Connors staked the Wildcats to a 2-0 lead, but playing from behind was nothing new to the EA/Holland Blue Devils.
Sophomore Andrew Sarafin, who earned MVP honors with a hat trick and one assist, said their ability to come back during the regular season fed into their belief that they were capable of getting the job done.
“We’ve been down several times before. We’re known for our comebacks,” Sarafin said. “I just knew we were gonna get it. We knew we were gonna come back. Just fight through, pop a couple in.”
A back and forth affair all game, Cory Scull got EA/Holland on the board late in the first. Sarafin not only tied the game at 2-2, it was his third goal coming with 5:24 left in regulation is what forced OT.
In the Large School game, St. Joe's Maroon spoiled Orchard Park A’s bid at a perfect season when Sam Latorre's game-winner broke a 2-2 tie with 8:22 left in the game. OP had a 2-1 lead after two periods, thanks to Brycen Miller’s go-ahead goal with 10:24 left in the second. Frank Attea tied the game for St. Joe’s two minutes before Latorre’s goal.
St. Joe’s survived a late flurry by OP to hang on for win.
“It was incredible,” said Latorre, who was named MVP. “We came to this last year and we lost before I left St. Joe’s I wanted to know how it felt (to win) so its obviously pretty special being here, but winning it is even better.”
This was the fourth club title in the last five years for St.Joe’s Maroon.
MVP Dylan Krzykowski scored twice as Roy-Hart/Barker/Medina beat Jamestown, 4-1, in the Mixed School title game.