LAUREL – Landon rallied in the final minute to come back and beat DeMatha in overtime 6-5 to earn a berth in the Mid-Atlantic Prep Hockey League championship game.
DeMatha (16-9-4) had been 9-0-4 in its previous league contests this winter and took a two-goal lead on Landon on three separate occasions but could not hold on for the win.
DeMatha squandered a stellar effort from senior forward Ryan Sweeney, who delivered a hat trick for the Stags. Senior goalie Kevin Mackey made 30 saves on a night when Landon owned a comfortable 36-20 advantage in shots on goal. Sweeney’s third goal gave the Stags a 5-3 lead late in the second period and figured to be pivotal and potentially decisive, but the Stags’ defense could not hold on for the win.
DeMatha scored the first two goals in the opening period 35 seconds apart when Max Morgan picked up a loose puck in the Landon zone and wristed it past Mattur for a 1-0 lead. Almost immediately Sebastian Ulloa lifted the Stags to a 2-0 lead when he scored on assists from Chris Myers and Sweeney to give the hosts their first two-goal lead of the game and it occurred although Landon had already owned a 7-3 edge in shots on goals.
But that was the beginning for a common theme of the night, one that would not favor the Stags. DeMatha senior Austin Weber was whistled for a minor penalty with just under three minutes to play in the opening period and Landon capitalized when Ben Gilbert scored to narrow the Bears’ deficit to 2-1 heading into the second period. It would not be the last late penalty that proved detrimental to DeMatha.
Landon drew even when Drennan Greene scored on a rebound off a shot by Gilbert in the early stages of the second period, but DeMatha quickly countered on goals by Sweeney, including a short-handed goal with five minutes left in the second period. But a late boarding penalty to Kevin McGuire gave the Bears a glimmer of hope heading into the third period and the visitors responded.
Freshman Patrick Giles, who scored the Bears third goal, followed a goal by Tommy Crittenberger by scoring with less than a minute remaining in the contest after the Bears had pulled Mattur for the extra attacker. Giles would prove precociously dangerous again in the overtime session as the freshman scored the game winner with just under three minutes elapsed in the extra session.
“It was a tough way to end the season,” said Sweeney. “It looked like we had it. We had a two-goal lead to start the period and we only had to kill that last minute of regulation to hold on. But they did that to us when we saw them during the season. They just never quit.”