Farmington has found a recipe for success in the Division 3 hockey tournament — score first and ride a hot goalie.
The Falcons used the formula again Friday in a 2-1 semifinal win over Grand Rapids Catholic Central at Compuware Arena to advance to today’s final against Sault Ste. Marie. It’s the first state final appearance in program history for the Falcons (20-10).
“We’re getting the first goals, we’re getting hot starts,” sophomore Jason Petras said. “We weren’t necessarily doing that at the beginning of the regular season, but come playoff time, we’ve really picked it up.”
Two sophomores scored the Falcons’ first and only goals — Cam Noseworthy 5:28 into the game, followed 5 minutes later by Petras.
“We’ve scored first in every single game of the state tournament so far, and it’s been big on me, takes the pressure off me a lot, to just do my thing,” senior goalie John Lethemon said.
The pressure on goal was heaviest in the second period as the Falcons found themselves killing 6 minutes of penalties, and then in the third when Catholic Central knew time was running short. Lethemon faced 13 shots in the second period and 14 in the third, stopping all but one. That was the goal by Brendan Sullivan — shorthanded, after he stole an errant pass — with 10:24 left.
“We took some penalties, so I just tried to stick to my game and just play around it,” Lethemon said. “I was a little nervous, a lot of pressure, but you just have to play past that, stay focused.”
Farmington was outshot, 35-17, which coach Bill Newton said was typical Falcon hockey.
“It was a good game all around,” Noseworthy said. “But we still need to get more shots on net.”
One minute after Catholic Central (18-5-6) scored, the red lamp lit after a shot by Farmington, and players on both sides reacted as if it was a good goal and a 3-1 Farmington edge. But officials reviewed the video tape, for the first time in the finals, and concluded the puck hit the crossbar, dropped straight down but did not go over the red line.
“It’s a good team win,” Petras said. “Johnny played outstanding. But we’re hungry for more. He’s unreal, one of the main reasons we’ve gotten here, along with coaching and teamwork. He knows we’ve got to ride him to win. He plays like the best goalie in the state, which I think he is.”