By Mike Gurnis
STOCKHOLM — The first two periods of Saturday night’s game between Madison and Kinnelon can best be described as relatively uneventful.
Then, the third period happened.
In what will go down as one of the wildest third periods of the 2018-19 season, Kinnelon scored twice in 2:55 to build a two-goal lead, only to see Madison score three unanswered goals in the final 7:06- including the game-winner by Jacoby Erickson with seven seconds left- to earn a 4-3 comeback win over Kinnelon at Skylands Ice World.
“They just kept applying pressure in the offensive zone,” Madison coach Dave Hansen said of his team’s third-period rally. “The goals started coming and they started believing in each other. When that first one went in, and then that second one, they put everything full cylinder for the last seven minutes. They were able to get it done.
“Good teams find a way to win. We didn’t play great tonight, but we were able to pull out the win.”
Madison out-shot Kinnelon, 49-27 for the game, and Kinnelon goalie Brett Lewis was spectacular throughout the game, stopping 45 of the 49 shots he faced. Through two periods, he was a big reason why his team was tied up at one with one of the top public teams in the state this season going into the third period.
Then, Kinnelon came through early in the third to take the lead. Everest Schneider capitalized on a breakaway with 10:31 to go, in which he made a slick move to beat Madison goalie Matt Ubertaccio to give his team the lead. Just 2:55 later, A.J. Fanelli’s shot from the circle went top-shelf, and the Colts appeared to be on their way to pulling off the upset.
Immediately after Fanelli’s goal, Hansen called timeout.
“We came out flat from the start,” Hansen said. “Kinnelon is always a very good team, they’re a very good program. It felt like our guys knew that because they (Kinnelon) play in the Halvorsen Division, that they were just going to be able to beat them and not work hard for it. I called the timeout with about seven minutes left, I told them that I don’t care what the score is. You have to play hard and play for each other and get pucks to the net. We scored a quick one right away, and that’s pretty much how we got those goals by them, it was just a matter of getting traffic in front.”
The response was almost immediate for Madison. Thirty seconds after Fanelli’s goal, Cormac McNamara deflected Ian Skinner’s point shot to pull Madison within a goal, and suddenly all the momentum had shifted to the other side of the ice.
Madison’s offensive pressure was relentless after that goal, and it finally buried the game-tying goal with 2:09 to go as Kyle Pruzick scored off a feed from Jacoby Erickson.
The Dodgers weren’t satisfied with a tie though, and with seven seconds left- after a mad scramble in front- Jacoby Erickson put in the rebound of a Dave Renzulli shot and gave Madison the lead for good.
“One of the things was that we weren’t doing what we set out to do,” Skinner said of the team’s adjustments. “They have a really good goalie and we have to give him credit. But we weren’t getting guys in front enough, so that’s one thing we had to do. The other thing was we had to pick up the effort because it just wasn’t there.”
The third period was a perfect example of the type of adversity that a team can expect to face during this time of the season, especially during win-or-go-home situations such as the Mennen Cup or the state tournament. The Dodgers are the second seed going into the Mennen Cup, which it will begin play in next week after a first round bye.
“We’re feeling really good,” Skinner said. “Even though sometimes we have games like this where we don’t come out strong, we’re starting to peak right now. I think it’s a really good time to peak. We’re really, really confident in ourselves, and we’re trying new things that we weren’t trying earlier in the season. And it’s just all coming together.”
K — Evan Granier (Tim Hausler) 13:42
M — Jack Downs (Ian Skinner, Ryan Catlin) 9:23
K — Everest Schneider 10:31
K — A.J. Fanelli 7:36
M — Cormac McNamara (Ian Skinner) 7:06
M — Kyle Pruzick (Jacoby Erickson) 2:09
M — Jacoby Erickson (Dave Renzulli, Jason Siedem) 0:07
Shots on goal: Madison 49, Kinnelon 27
Saves: Brett Lewis (Kinnelon) 45, Matt Ubertaccio (Madison) 24