The Mars Planets pulled off a close, 3-2, victory over the Bishop McCort Crushers in the 84 Lumber PIHL Class A Penguins Cup Championship game at the Mellon Arena Tuesday night.
The game was tied at 1-1 after two periods of play but Mars pulled through for the victory, extending its winning streak to 19 games and improving its overall record to 22-1-0 on the season.
“This is awesome, it’s unlike any feeling I’ve ever felt,” Mars captain Jake Robash said. “I’m completely ecstatic right now.”
Mars converted on the first power-play opportunity of the game at 4:27 of the first period to net an early lead in the game. Planets forward Mike Mazzotta wound-up and took a slap shot from the high slot which made its way through traffic and into the net for the point.
“It was extremely important for us to score the first goal,” junior Brady Sipe said. “There’s nothing better than getting the first goal.”
This is awesome, it’s unlike any feeling I’ve ever felt. I’m completely ecstatic right now. - Mars Captain Jake Robash
The Crushers tied the game at 1-1 in the second period when junior Dane Domonkos took a shot from the slot and senior Matthew Holtz collected the rebound and chipped it over the pad of goaltender Tyler Stepke to tie the score.
Only moments after the Crushers tied the score, Mars took an interference penalty followed by a slashing penalty, giving the Crushers a minute-long five-on-three advantage, but the Crushers were unable to capitalize on the opportunity.
Mazzotta managed a breakaway during the penalty kill, but Matthew Holts made a smart defensive play and pushed Mazzotta off the puck before he was able to snap a shot off.
Both teams played a determined third period and after five minutes of play shots were tied at 19-19.
It was anyone’s game but Mars took control of the game with a go-ahead goal at the nine-minute mark. Tyler Whiteford passed the puck up the far boards to Brady Sipe. Sipe skated through the far circle and patiently wristed a shot into the upper left shelf to help Mars take the lead.
“Tyler Whiteford made a beautiful pass up the boards to me and I just saw an opening on the top left side and I went for it,” Sipe said.
Mars tacked on an assurance goal with 4:24 remaining in the third period with a slick three-way play. Matt Wingert fed the puck to Derek Sitterly in the near circle. Sitterly sent the puck through the crease to Andrew Santa who slipped the puck in for the 3-1 lead.
After calling a timeout, Bishop scored a clutch power-play goal with just under three minutes to play in the game. Stepke left a rebound in the slot which Domonkos wristed in to cut Mars’ lead to 3-2.
The Crushers made a valliant effort to tie the game in the final minutes but Mars held them off.
“We played amazing,” Sipe said. “Bishop played very good too, it was a great battle the whole way through.”