ELMIRA, N.Y. — The old adage, “Momentum is everything in hockey,” is true more often than not. But seldom was it so obvious as when St. John’s met Elmira in the concluding game of the East/West Faceoff.
St. John’s built a commanding 5-1 lead in the first period, only to see Elmira climb back throughout the game, eventually tying the contest at 7-7 with only 22 seconds remaining.
However, just as suddenly, the Johnnies got a timely goal in overtime to earn the victory.
“I told the boys to go back to just putting the puck on net in overtime, and that’s what they did,” said St. John’s coach John Harrington.
The winner came when freshman James Hermanson wrested the puck from the left boards towards the Elmira net, and the puck found its way just inside of the right post for the game winner 2:44 in to the overtime period.
“This was a great weekend for us,” said Harrington. “We need to see what the best look like, and winning two games this weekend is a great confidence builder.”
St. John’s out-hustled, out-played, out-skated, and out-scored Elmira in the first period, building a 5-1 lead that, at the time, appeared insurmountable.
“We came out pretty hard,” said Harrington. “We kept putting the puck on to the net, and it kept going in.”
Elmira was the mirror image.
“We definitely came out flat,” said Elmira coach Tim Ceglarski. “But after the first period, I told them that we should expect to have a bad period sometimes, especially after having eight or nine great ones in a row. They needed to just put the first period out of their minds and play our game.”
That is exactly what Elmira did in the second period, and the ‘Big Mo’ had switched back to the Soaring Eagles. What had appeared as the pit of despair suddenly didn’t seem so bad, as Elmira scored three times in the first 4:22 of the second period to cut the deficit to one.
St. John’s answered with a goal, but Elmira got another before the middle of the second period, and the goals seemed to be flowing freely with a 6-5 St. John’s lead after two periods.
“Elmira has so many talented guys, and when you give them chances they will score,” said Harrington.
Elmira tied it up early in the third period on a goal by Craig Macdonald, only to see St. John’s retake the lead once again. Momentum swung back and forth throughout the third period. It looked like the Soaring Eagle comeback would come up short, until leading scorer Pierre Rivard deflected the puck in to the net with only 22 seconds remaining just as Elmira was pulling its goalie.
“Even though the comeback fell short in the end, it was great for the character and experience of our young team,” said Ceglarski.