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Pre-Christmas clash results in overtime thriller

by Jack Lyttle / Columbus Blue Jackets

The Skyline Chili Game of the Week was a pre-Christmas clash of two of the best teams in the CHC. The 10-4-2 Gahanna Lions took on the 9-5 St. Charles Cardinals Sunday in a game that would set the tone for the second half of their seasons.

St. Charles would ultimately triumph in a game that almost went into Christmas Eve, 4-3 in overtime. Cardinal head coach Rob Sangster said the guys “were really excited and ecstatic” in the locker room after the hard-won victory. “I wished them a Merry Christmas and told them we would pick up in practice the following week.”

St. Charles goalie Alex Ward had 32 saves in the game. His teammate Logan Rupert got the scoring started with a beautiful short-side shot with four minutes to play in the first.

Gahanna’s Zach Chapman tied the game midway through the 2nd Period, as the Lions took advantage of a Power Play opportunity. From there, St. Charles really went to work. Goals from Danny Shirtzinger and Alex Lippert gave the Cardinals a seemingly comfortable 3-1 lead with just one period to play.

Gahanna head coach J.J. Stallsworth said his team didn’t panic. “We’ve been in every single game we’ve played, and that goes back to the kids and working hard,” he said. The work ethic showed in the 3rd. Jeremy Salis converted a St. Charles turnover and cut the lead to one. Then Austin Hays lit up the OhioHealth Ice Haus, tying the game with less than three minutes to play on a jam play at the side of the net.

Hays said the anticipation for the Lions playing in the Skyline Chili Game of the Week was huge. “We were ready for this game. We tried to get a lot of people to come out,” he said.

The crowd’s presence was felt as the game headed to overtime.

Ryan Cleary of St. Charles ended the suspense early in the overtime, spoiling the Lions’ Christmas wish for a comeback win. “We probably thought we had it in the bag (after the 2nd Period),” Cleary said. “But we closed, that’s what I like to see.”

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