It’s a childhood fantasy played out on thousands of backyard rinks and frozen ponds across Canada by innumerable young hockey players every year—scoring the game-winning goal in a big game in the dying seconds.
Matt DePiero lived the dream in Morden, Man. on the weekend.
DePiero was handed the puck on a silver platter and proceeded to drill home the decisive tally with just one second left in the third period to lift the Muskie boys’ hockey team to a 3-2 win over the Dryden Eagles in the final of the Muskies’ last pre-season tournament.
“It’s going to be a fun year going up against Dryden,” Muskie coach Shawn Jourdain said of their NorWOSSA rival.
“They’re a pretty good hockey team.”
Fort Frances took the lead at 7:37 of the first when DePiero set up Nick Kaun for the only goal of the opening two frames.
Then along came the third, which provided four of the game’s five goals and much of its drama.
Matt Bartlett tied the score for Dryden at 4:22, only to see Donovan Cousineau put the Muskies back in front at 12:56.
Ryan Lobreau’s power-play marker with 6:04 left knotted the affair once again—setting the stage for DePiero to play the hero.
Wes Brown made 27 saves for Fort High in the win. Zach Lake was the hard-luck loser in goal for Dryden after making 36 saves, but not the all-important 37th.
“We had four lines scoring throughout the tournament, the defence played well, and our goaltending was spot on,” said Jourdain, whose team opened the NorWOSSA season here last night against the Kenora Broncos (the score was unavailable by press time).
“We’re a quick team and we want to keep doing things at an even quicker pace,” he stressed.
“Our defensive zone coverage is where we have to really work on improving.”
The Muskies, who had four wins in four tries in Morden while outscoring their opponents 22-6, opened play Friday by blanking the host Thunder 8-0.
Jamie Kaun had the only goal in the first for the black-and-gold, who then exploded for four goals in the second, including two in a 46-second span by Colton Spicer midway through the period.
Brendan Cawston and Jeff Davis had the other second-period tallies.
The Muskies completed the rout with three goals in the final six minutes of the game.
David Chambers and Cousineau scored 1:25 apart before Spicer put the finishing touches on his hat trick with 13 seconds left.
Devin Stromness made 19 saves to earn the shutout while John Laninga had 33 stops for the Thunder.
Kenora provided only slightly more resistance in the Muskies’ next outing, which resulted in a 5-1 victory for Fort High.
Chambers, on the power play, and Davis netted first-period goals to make it 2-0. After a scoreless second, Cousineau notched two tallies in 37 seconds in the first two minutes of the third to increase the lead to four.
Colt German finally beat Stromness 1:47 after Cousineau’s second goal, but that was almost immediately forgotten as Jamie Kaun bent the twine behind Kenora goalie Bradin Seniw just 18 seconds later to round out the scoring.
Stromness ended up with 26 saves while Seniw kept the score respectable with 42 stops.
Fort High then wrapped up the preliminary round against the Mountain Mustangs—one of Manitoba’s more successful teams in recent years.
Once again, the Muskie offence put the game out of reach and made most of the third period inconsequential as they cruised to a 6-3 win.
Dustin Brown set up Nik Jourdain twice in the latter half of the opening stanza for a 2-0 Muskie lead before Cousineau added a pair of goals in the second.
Kody Conrad tried to get Mountain back in the game three minutes into the third. But 25 seconds later, Davis made it 5-1 and then lit the lamp again at 11:12.
Brody Chabbert and Conrad, with his second, rounded out the scoring for the Mustangs.
Brown kicked out 21 shots for Fort High while Alode Grenier countered with 26 saves for Mountain.
The Muskies are back in action this weekend with a pair of match-ups against the Red Lake Rams on Saturday at 7:15 p.m. at the Ice For Kids Arena here and again Sunday at 11 a.m. at the Emo-La Vallee Arena.
Fort High then heads to Dryden to face the Eagles next Tuesday (Nov. 24).