The Northern Cyclones kept firing and firing in the hope that, eventually, something would eventually find its way past NH Jr. Monarchs’ goalie Jake Theut.
Finally, during a four-minute stretch midway through the third period, the Cyclones’ broke through for the game-tying goal by Daniil Kulikov at 7:24 and the unassisted game-winner from Jeremy Young at 11:12 for a 3-2 win that completed their comeback from a 2-0 series deficit and clinched the inaugural Eastern Hockey League championship on the Monarchs’ home ice at Tri-Town Arena.
Theut, the EHL’s Goaltender of the Year, did all that he could to complete the Monarchs’ title quest with a remarkable 50-save performance but the Cyclones were relentless in their assault, with shot totals of 17-19-17 by period.
The Monarchs grabbed a quick 2-0 lead in the first period on goals by Eric Berglund at 4:27 and Hunter Laslo at 11:00. The latter came on the Monarchs’ seventh shot and would be the last puck to beat Cyclones’ goalie Drew Weigman (31 saves). Weston Moon brought the Cyclones to within a goal at 16:31 of the period.
It was a bitter result for the regular-season champion Monarchs, who won four of five regular-series meetings between the teams and had the series under control until the Cyclones’ epic triple OT win in Game Three.
The Cyclones now advance to the USA Hockey Tier III Junior National Championships April 3-7, 2014 in Simsbury, CT. The Monarchs will face the Metropolitan Junior Hockey League runner-up Boston Junior Rangers on Saturday at 5 p.m. at Cyclones Arena with the final at-large bid to USA Hockey Tier III Junior National Championships at stake.