With mere seconds remaining in regulation time and the game tied, this season’s edition of the OHL Cup Powered by Under Armour looked like it was headed to overtime, just like the last two years.
In 2016, the OHL Cup champion needed two overtime sessions to determine the winner. In 2015, it took less than four minutes of OT to crown a champ.
But Dennis Golovatchev from the Mississauga Reps extinguished the need for extra time with his tournament winning marker at 14:51 of the third period to give his squad a 3-2 victory over the Toronto Nationals and their first OHL Cup Powered by Under Armour win.
This game, which was played at the Mattamy Athletic Centre in downtown Toronto, had all the makings of another overtime classic as time ticked down to nine seconds in a 2-2 deadlock.
The deciding factor was an offensive zone face-off that Mississauga used to notch the dramatic game winning goal.
With the draw set up to the right of Toronto Nationals G Zach Roy, Mississauga centre Lucas Rowe snapped the puck back to Golovatchev who was standing and waiting for a pass near the top of face-off circle.
The 6’1’, 180 lb forward made no mistake finding the back of the Nationals net, as his quick release was too quick and accurate for Roy to handle.
“We've worked on that faceoff play all season," said Golovatchev following his late game heroics.
"We pulled it off perfectly. Rowe won it back to me and I just shot the puck.”
With less than ten tics on the clock, overtime was on everybody’s minds except Mississauga’s.
“We didn’t want to go into overtime because we knew it was going to be nerve-wracking. When coach put me on, we said 'number two’ – that’s our faceoff play, and it worked.”
Losing like that has to be heartbreaking for the Titans especially when they worked so hard to tie the game 2-2 with less than three minutes to play in the third period.
Despite being outshot by the Reps for long stretches in the game, the Titans refused to give up and pushed the pace until Brandon Coe scored at 12:48 of the final frame.
In the end, the game was determined on an offensive face-off play that the Reps have probably practiced dozens of times this season and the kind that the Titans have defended against as many times.
The Titans held a 1-0 lead until the Reps struck twice within a four-minute span to jump ahead 2-1.
Rory Graham opened the scoring for the Titans at 9:27 of the opening period when he deflected Carter Schott’s point shot past a sliding Mississauga goaltender, Ryan Dugas to put Toronto up 1-0.
In the second period, Mississauga started building momentum and peppered Roy with 19 shots.
They were eventually rewarded when Aaron Jamieson jumped all over a nifty, no look pass by teammate Mike Petizian from behind the Titans goal to tie things up 1-1 at 11:49 of the period.
Then with less than a minute to play, Toronto found themselves in penalty trouble, going down two men and facing a 5-on-3 PK to start the final 15 minutes of play.
That didn’t work out very well for the Titans as Petizian notched his fifth goal of the tournament for Mississauga, 48 seconds into the period to put the Reps ahead, 2-1.
Mississauga continued to carry the play and at one point was outshooting Toronto 26-9.
But with time running out and facing a Reps team that had not been scored against in the third period in the OHL Cup, Toronto found a way to get another one past Dugas.
The game tying marker was a result of an aggressive forecheck by Ethan Keppen which led to him stealing the puck of a Mississauga defenceman and finding Coe all alone in front of the Reps net for the tap in.
With nine seconds left in regulation and the game knotted up 2-2 it certainly looked like the OHL Cup Powered by Under Armour final was heading to overtime for the third consecutive year.
But the Mississauga Reps had other plans and quickly ended it.
OHL Cup News & Notes: The Mississauga Reps become the second Wild Card team to win the OHL Cup Powered by Under Armour. The Mississauga Rebels were the first in 2010.
With a goal and an assist Reps F Mike Petizian was named Player of the Game, and tournament MVP after leading the event in scoring with 5-8-13 points in 7 games. He was also named to the Gatorade OHL Cup All-Star Team.
Nationals G Zach Roy earned Player of the Game honours for his team and was named to the Gatorade OHL Cup All-Star Team while sporting a 1.91 G.A.A, .959 Save Percentage and two shutouts while leading all goaltenders with 315 minutes played.
Other players that earned spots on the Gatorade All-Star Team included: D Robert Calisti, Toronto Nationals; D Anthony Aguanno, Mississauga Reps; F Ethan Keppen, Toronto Nationals and F Jamieson Rees, Mississauga Reps.
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