It’s safe to say this game is going to be a topic of conversation in years ahead.
The 2014 Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) state hockey final - a weekend "final four" held annually at Nationwide Arena in Columbus - has featured some memorable finishes over the years, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find something that rivals Saturday’s final.
Sylvania Northview and St. Ignatius (Cleveland), two of the more dominant high school programs this year in their respective regions of the state, battled it out in an instant classic on Saturday afternoon.
Northview got out to the start it wanted, carrying a 1-0 lead into the third period despite being heavily out-shot and spending a lot of time inside their own zone. St. Ignatius tied the game in the third period on a goal by senior forward Danny Brogan. St. Ignatius was rolling throughout the game, sending a truckload of shots toward Northview goaltender David Marsh - who set a record of his own in this game.
Marsh finished the day with over 70 saves in three periods of regulation and seven - yes, seven - periods of overtime hockey (eight minutes apiece) before the game was called prior to an eighth overtime. The final shot count in the game was 78-26 in favor of Ignatius, who fired 45 shots on goal in the seven eight-minute overtime periods.
OSHAA commissioner Dan Ross, in conjunction with athletic directors from both schools, decided that it was the best interest of player safety that the game end in a 1-1 tie. The two teams were declared co-state champions, and while it may seem crazy, it’s not without precedent in high school hockey.
The 2008 Michigan state hockey final ended in a tie under similar circumstances, but that game was comprised of 10 overtimes. Northview’s head coach told the Toledo Blade after the game that many of his players lacked enough energy to get to the shower, and many of them were eating fruits and drinking Pedialyte between periods to stay properly hydrated.
Due to a national rule, a shootout was not permitted and the choice was either to continue the game or call it. The following is a statement released by the OHSAA on Saturday evening:
“After the seventh overtime, the head coaches, school athletic administrators and OHSAA administrators had a lengthy discussion. Many players on both teams were seriously fatigued and neither coach or school administrator objected to ending the game before the eighth overtime began.
By national rule, there is no shootout procedure in high school hockey.
While the decision is being questioned by fans, the OHSAA commends the coaches and school athletic administrators in reaching this decision together without conflict.
This is an opportunity to show that wins and losses, even in a state championship game, are not more important than player safety. Had a player been seriously injured in the eighth overtime due to fatigue, the decision to allow the game to continue would have been seriously questioned more than the decision to end it.”