No matter how far a team has come and how many wins it has accumulated along the way, the last one is always the most difficult.
All that remains is one game for the Ohio High School Athletic Association's 66th boys hockey tournament championship, and it will take place Saturday evening at Nationwide Arena. Shaker Heights and Sylvania Northview advanced to the championship game after an day of exciting semifinal action that featured several lead changes, momentum swings and a thrilling comeback in the second match-up.
For both sides, it was a difficult day that included several obstacles on their way to the final dance. Shaker Heights rallied from two one-goal deficits (1-0 and 2-1) before taking over the game early in the third period, obtaining its first lead of the day at 6:30 of the third period on a clutch goal from Jacob Shick.
John Longman added an insurance tally with 1:01 remaining in regulation for the 4-2 final.
In the second semifinal, local club Olentangy Liberty was bidding to become the first Columbus-area school to ever play in the championship game, and they got off on the right foot.
The Patriots scored the first two goals of the hockey game and looked to be in good stead, but Sylvania Northview put its collective rally caps on. From 2-0 down, Northview completed the comeback five minutes into the third period and scored an empty-netter with less than a second to play, sealing a 4-2 victory and a berth in the final.
Saturday's championship game will take place after the Blue Jackets play the Detroit Red Wings at Nationwide Arena, and face-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. The game will air tape delayed on SportsTime Ohio on Sunday, Mar. 10 at 4 p.m.
Blue Jackets broadcaster Bob McElligott will have the play-by-call game for the contest with John Mowat providing color analysis.