Parma Padua’s Ryan Saunders’ game-winning goal 2:05 into overtime set off a wild celebration as the Bruins won their first State Title with a 6-5
win over the Sylvania Northview Wildcats at Nationwide Arena on Sunday.
“I still don’t even know what is going on right now, it still hasn’t set in,” Saunders said. “When you put on the Parma Padua jersey you’re playing for so many people. I’ll never forget it.”
Saunders took a feed from Mike Stokar on a breakaway and beat goaltender Bobby McElheney just over two minutes into overtime to end a wild game.
“We locked eyes and I knew I was going to do something special,” Saunders said. “I told him that if he got the puck in front of the net that I could put it in.”
Parma held the lead early scoring on a fluke bounce just 1:02 in the game as Chris Coyle scored unassisted after banging the puck off the back of McElheney for a 1-0 lead.
Sylvania Northview responded with three goals to close out the first period, two by leading goal scorer Alden Hirschfeld, and controlled the game 3-1 entering the second period.
Parma tied the score as Matt Feda and Saunders, scoring the first of his two goals, lit the lamp early in the second. Northview’s Eric LaVoy then seized momentum on his stick, scoring off of assists by Hirschfeld and Nik Saenz to put the Wildcats up 4-3, the last lead they would hold.
Padua’s Justin Phenney scored to close out the second period and Zak Kusek gave the Bruins a short-lived lead in the third before Cody Bourland tied it to force overtime.
“Yesterday I asked the kids to play the best game of the year and I think we played the best game of our season,” Padua head coach Doug Hauser said. “It is a great to see all the smiles and achieve a goal that we set for the season.”
Hirschfeld led Northview, scoring two goals and adding an assist, while Saunders led Padua with two goals while Kusek added a goal and two assists.
McElheney stopped 21-of-27 shots in taking the loss while Padua’s Chase Coleman made 18 saves to secure the championship.
“Champions stick together,” Hauser said. “Ten years from now we will all get back together and realize they did something special. They now have a bond that will last forever.”