It took nearly an entire five periods, but a champion was finally crowned at the 70th Annual Lawrenceville
Hockey Invitational Sunday night at Loucks Ice Center in Lawrenceville.
When it was all set and done, Nichols School from Buffalo, N.Y. claimed the trophy after a 2-1 double overtime victory over Northfield Mount Hermon of Massachusetts.
In a nearly 90-minute contest that saw 106 shots fired on goal, it was a little scramble in the danger area that proved to be the ultimate decider. Owen Gonter ended the marathon with 1:24 remaining in the second overtime when he poked home a loose puck inside the blue paint past NMH goalie Eric Green, who made 48 saves, but it was not enough to earn the victory.
Once the puck hit the twine the celebration was on.
“I saw the puck lying in the crease and I put it in – everything just went blank after that – I don’t even remember.” Gonter said.
Nichols net-minder Robbie Nuchereno stood on his head making 55 saves in the victory. He pushed aside all 20 shots that NMH fired at him in the first overtime period and made sure to give a lot of credit to his defense for limiting the quality chances that NMH was primed with.
“It was a lot of fun but I got to give credit to my teammates,” Nuchereno said. “They stuck in there with me and made it easy for me.
Nuchereno was only beaten once the entire night by Northfield Mount Hermon forward Colin Hedge with just under 12 minutes remaining in regulation. Jack Quinn took the puck down low and behind the net where he sent a pass from behind the cage to a waiting Hedge at the top of the slot.
It appeared like that would turn out to be the game winner until the dying seconds of regulation.
But with Nuchereno pulled for the extra attacker, Dylan Lugris skated down the left side and sent home a shot from the slot over Green knotting the score up at 1-1 with just 20.8 separating NMH from victory.
Northfield Mount Hermon came out with a flurry of quality chances in the first overtime period, but Nuchereno was a brick wall between the pipes and was able to get his team to the locker room despite being out-shot 20-5 over the 18 minute period.
Nichols turned the tables in the second overtime as Gonter’s shot, the 19th of the period, was able to beat Green and clinch the championship. The team was exhausted, but the five periods of hockey was not something that Nichols didn’t think could happen.
“We knew it was going to be a grind,” Gonter said. “We have grind practices every week trying to prepare us for a game like this. We just dug deep and kept pushing and got a ‘dub’.”
Nichols can now add the title of “70th Annual Lawrenceville School Invitational Hockey Tournament” to
“It feels amazing – to represent my school like that. It makes the bus ride home a lot easier,” Gonter added.
“It feels great,” Nuchereno said. It’s definitely super exciting.”
NMH was in the final for the first time since 1990, however they are still without any championships. Nichols School has now won the tournament eight times. Their last victory came in 1993. They won the inaugural tournament back in 1949.
Written by Casey J. Krish / @CaseyKrish
Special to HockeyClan
Main Image: The Nichols School from Buffalo, N.Y., celebrates its title at the 70th Annual Lawrenceville Hockey Invitational at Loucks Ice Center in Lawrenceville, N.J. (HockeyClan)
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