McSparin’s heady play gives Tigers dramatic OT win
BRECKENRIDGE – With the rest of his team skating toward the bench to change lines, Jan McSparin saw a seam. Later, after that seam led to a dramatic game-winning goal, McSparin’s coach thanked him for pushing the puck.”I’ve definitely thanked him probably five times since the game ended,” SHS coach Bryan Smith said, no more than a few minutes after McSparin’s goal gave the Tigers a stirring, losing streak-breaking 4-3 overtime win against Mitchell at the Stephen C. West Ice Arena.The coach’s thanks had more to do with the season than it did the game. Summit had lost four straight entering Friday night’s contest, none more crushing than a 5-3 defeat to Pine Creek on Wednesday, when the Tigers gave up a 3-1 third-period lead.Friday, they took that same avenue, with a different final result. Down 1-0 entering the final 15 minutes of play, SHS senior Alex Edwards banged home a rebound off a Michael Henthorne slapper to tie it at 1. Little-used sophomore Matt Stoffel, who was playing in his first game this season, then gave the Tigers the lead with a backhander from just in front of the crease.
Speedy freshman Alex Gutierrez collected a loose puck five minutes later, skated the length of the ice and sniped a shorthanded wrister into the twine for what seemed to be a game-sealer. The Marauders had different intentions. Bryce Evans scored twice in three minutes for the visitors, sending the game into overtime tied at 3. In that extra period, McSparin corralled the puck in his half of the ice as his four teammates skated to the bench to change lines. Going the unconventional route, McSparin deked three Marauders before firing a snap shot into the upper-righthand corner of the net for the dramatic victory.Summit’s fans went nuts and the players and coaches stormed the ice to congratulate their hero.
Nobody was more relieved than the first-year coach.”I needed this win just as bad as the kids because I felt like I was doing something wrong,” sighed a smiling Smith, who said he knew McSparin was going to score right when he began skating up ice with the puck. “My guts were turning when they came back from 3-1: ‘Here we go again; are we hexed?’ I just closed my eyes many times after it was 3-3. And I just looked for something or somebody to help us out.””It’s huge,” McSparin said of the win, which bumped Summit’s record to 3-7 overall, 1-2 in the Metro League. “The team really needs it. I feel like game after game after game, we’re just not getting the win we deserve.”To be the one that could help everybody out like that was a really awesome feeling.”
Summit outshot Mitchell (7-4, 1-4) 43-19 in the game. Tigers sophomore Nick Springer saved 16 shots for the win. It was his first start in three games, after he lost his starting job to Corey Hancock.SHS returns to the ice today, when league foe Palmer comes to town for a 3:30 contest.Devon O’Neil can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 13630, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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