If nothing else, Chelsea’s hockey team could be called efficient.
The Bulldogs scored early, and on very few shots on goal, to take a 2-0 lead in the first period of the state semifinals, Friday at Plymouth’s USA Hockey Arena. But Grand Rapids Catholic Central came roaring back, pelting Chelsea goalie Derek Schaedig with a barrage of shots, eventually winning on a rebound shot by Jack Pendery in overtime, 3-2.
“All I heard was a bunch of screaming and roaring,” Pendery said. “I didn’t see the goal clearly go in. All I saw was a bunch of my teammates smiling and coming at me.”
Chelsea’s first shot on goal came 39 seconds after the opening puck drop, with Sean Cox scoring on the assist by Jack Miller and Alec Daman. The Bulldogs scored again with 4:09 to go, on an unassisted power play goal by Jacob McIntyre. Chelsea took only six shots the entire first period, and only took its seventh well after the halfway point in the second period.
Conversely, GRCC took 18 shots on goal the first period and 17 more in the second for an overall 35-13 margin going into the third. As a reward for all the attempts, GRCC scored at 9:41 of the second period on a goal by Brian Pattison, cutting the lead to 2-1.
GRCC’s tying goal came on a power play at 8:24 of the third by Chase Madden. The Cougars finished with 53 shots, including 10 in overtime alone, to Chelsea’s total of 24.
“We talked a lot about trying to get the lead early and we thought if we did that it was going to be a game where maybe we wouldn’t be scratching and clawing at the end there,” said GRCC head coach Mike Slobodnik. “Unfortunately it didn’t work out that way … and we knew it was going to be tough to beat that team. (Their goalie) has been tremendous all year, one of the top goalies in the state if not the top one. But a gutty performance out of these guys, and all the credit goes to them.”
GRCC senior Riley Richards said the team kept its composure and drew off of past experience when it trailed quickly.
“In the regional final we went down 2-0 right away,” he said. “I think the biggest thing is we didn’t panic. We just knew if we kept to our game plan, and I thought we controlled the game (today), mostly. We just figured if we keep pressing, keep pressing, something’s got to give. And it finally did.”
To reach the semifinal, GRCC defeated No. 1-ranked Saginaw Heritage 6-1, and now will face Hancock in the final, Saturday at 2 p.m.