LEWISTON, N.Y. — Junior Dusty Kingston scored at 9:12 of overtime to lead the Wayne State Warriors to a 5-4 win over Alabama-Huntsville in the championship game of the College Hockey America Tournament on Saturday at Niagara’s Dwyer Arena.
Kingston knocked in a loose puck during a goal-mouth scramble after junior Jon Brink powered out of the right corner and sent the puck towards the low slot. It was Kingston’s second game-winning goal in as many games after going 11 games without a goal. He was named tournament MVP.
“I think [Jason] Durbin took a swipe at it and missed and it just happened to come to me and I got my backhand on it,” said Kingston, who finished the season with 13 goals.
The Warriors beat Alabama-Huntsville for the second straight year in the title game and all their players return next season.
“Every time you play games like this and you win, it just continues to breed confidence in yourself, your program and your team and hopefully when you’re in those situations, you can do it again,” Wayne State coach Bill Wilkinson said.
Junior Tyler Kindle recorded two goals for the Warriors (21-11-4), while Durbin and freshman Billy Collins also scored.
Karlis Zirnis, Tyler Butler, Craig Bushey and Ryan Leasa scored for the Chargers (18-18-1), who lost for the third straight year in the CHA title game.
“We wanted it so bad,” senior Alabama-Huntsville defenseman and captain Kevin Ridgeway said. “We felt it was our night, it was our turn to win the championship. When that doesn’t come true, there’s a pretty hollow feeling throughout your whole body.”
This is the end of the season for both teams as the CHA does not have the automatic qualifier for the NCAA tournament and the Warriors’ power rating is not high enough to earn an at-large bid to the 12-team event.
Winning goalie David Guerrera made 24 saves, while counterpart Mark Byrne finished with 39. A Chargers defenseman had Durbin pinned against Byrne when Kingston scored the winner.
Wayne State forced overtime when Kindle fired a shot from the high slot that went off Byrne’s glove and trickled into the net at 18:47.
Wayne State scored three times in 12:29 of the second period to reverse a 1-0 deficit. Durbin struck at 3:44 when he picked up the rebound of a blocked shot, skated across the slot and beat goalie Mark Byrne stick side. Collins scored at 5:20.
Marc St. Jean poked a loose puck past Chargers defenseman Tyler Butler in the Huntsville zone and Collins collected it behind Butler and beat Byrne to the glove side. Kindle scored shorthanded on his own rebound to give the Warriors a 3-1 edge.
Huntsville charged back before the second intermission as Butler scored on the power play at 13:01 and Bushey scored with eight seconds left in the period after splitting the defense and flipping a shot over goalie David Guerrera, while falling to the ice.
Leasa scored at 4:16 of the third period, firing a riser from the left point that went over Guerrera’s glove.