It was a rough night at the Lane County Ice Center for Oregon club hockey.
After losing 3-2 in an extremely penalty-riddled Game 4, thereby splitting the four-game series, Oregon and Washington turned to a five-man shootout to determine who would ultimately take home the I-5 Cup.
The Ducks were unable to score in the shootout. Washington got two in.
Although the Ducks were the victors last year, the Huskies held the Cup in 2010, 2011, and 2012 and they were thrilled to bring it back North.
“We’re pretty pumped,” said Huskies defenseman Jason Bartlett, who scored the series-winning shootout goal. “It feels good. I’m a senior so we had it the first two years that I played, but we lost it last year so I’m happy to get it back.”
The first period of the game seemed hopeful for the Ducks. Compared to the previous night, the energy level was up and Dan Sulitzer –with an assist by Stephen Casey — gave the Ducks an early lead less than three minutes in.
Then the physicality picked up. Oregon’s Michael Luke had his first big hit of the game against forward Brandon Vandermon and Dan Sulitzer had a hit in the Oregon zone against Washington assistant captain Andrew Johnson.
Soon the march to penalty box began.
Oregon captain Tyler Halverson got two minutes for interference. A minute after that was cleared, Dan Sulitzer entered the box on a call for roughing after pushing a Husky into the boards behind the Oregon net. Halfway through the Sulitzer penalty, Halverson returned when he committed a penalty for hit from behind.
It was 5-on-3 in favor of Washington and they took full advantage of their extra man. As Sulitzer was taking his first step onto the ice while coming out of the penalty box, Andrew Johnson sent the puck over the blocker of Ducks goalie Danny Cockriel, giving Washington their first goal of the night.
The second period began with Stephen Casey sitting in the box on a 10-minute game misconduct that was awarded at the end of the 1st while Casey was heading back to the bench. From there, it was hard hits from both ends with penalties mixed in until the final few minutes of the period.
It was the penalties that did the Ducks in once again. 4:07 remained in the period. Dan Sulitzer and Luke were both sitting for Oregon when Washington’s Ryan Minkoff scored, giving the Huskies a 2-1 lead.
The goal was followed 2:25 seconds later by another. In a shot by Terran Jendro, the puck had slipped under Cockriel’s pad, went off of his skate and trickled in behind him. Washington’s lead extended to two.
Oregon responded. Exactly a minute and a half later, Dan Sulitzer scored again with a snipe into the top corner. It was assisted by Casey, making it a two-goal and two-assist game, respectively, for the two of them.
The third period was scoreless. Luke, the Sulitzer brothers and Halverson continued dishing out big hits, but the focus had shifted to the front of the Washington net.
As the minutes dwindled down, the desperation of the Ducks was palpable. Traffic in front of Washington goalie Jacob Gilmore was dense. Halverson was firing off shot after shot after teammates picked up each rebound to quickly try again.
Oregon was unable to convert and the game ended 3-2 in favor of the Huskies.
However, the series wasn’t over. The time on the game clock had run out, but both Washington and Oregon had won two games a piece, forcing a shootout for the Cup.
Washington shot first.
The first two rounds were unsuccessful for both teams. Casey and Connor McBride went up for Oregon while Washington picked Alex Black and Corey James to go.
In the third round, Minkoff proved why he was leading the league in goals. His shot found the back of the net after sailing under the left glove of Cockriel. Alex Sulitzer was unable to reciprocate the goal.
The fourth round sealed the deal for Washington. Like Minkoff before him, Jason Bartlett fired the puck early and it yielded the same result. Dan Sulitzer, who scored the only two Oregon goals of the game, was up, but was denied by Gilmore, ending the series.
“We played well,” Dan Sulitzer said. “They got a fluke third goal and unfortunately that was the difference in the game.”
“It’s a shame, but that’s how games go,” he continued. “It was a hard fought battle and we’re definitely a better team but unfortunately it didn’t show.”
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