Hockey: Kingsford wins 2OT thriller, reaches quarterfinals

Kingsford's Daunte Fortner, left, and David Brule III celebrate Fortner's goal in double overtime against Traverse City Central in a Division 2 regional final on Saturday, March 3, 2018, in St. Ignace, Mich. (Adam Niemi/Iron Mountain Daily News)

ST. IGNACE — This has been a drama-filled postseason to say the least.

That held true again Saturday afternoon for Kingsford, escaping a third-period collapse to win 6-5 in a double-overtime triumph over the Traverse City Central Trojans in a Division 2 regional final at Little Bear East Arena.

The Flivvers held a 5-2 lead going into the third period before the Trojans stormed back with three third period goals.

GALLERY: Kingsford vs. Traverse City Central

The late game drama was nothing new to Kingsford, however.

In their first two playoff contests, the Flivvers squeezed past Marquette 4-3 in an overtime thriller Tuesday, then scored two third period goals to beat Escanaba 3-2 Thursday en route to their first regional crown in seven years.

The victory sends Kingsford (19-7-1) to Gaylord where they’ll meet Ada Forest Hills Eastern (17-10-1) in a state quarterfinal game 7 p.m. EST Tuesday. The Trojans finished 13-15.

Junior forward Daunte Fortner ended the drama by beating senior goaltender Spencer Torres from inside the right faceoff circle one minute, 46 seconds into the second overtime.

“I looked at their defenseman and took the puck wide,” Fortner said. “It was a crazy game. We probably should have finished it a little earlier. We just had to stay calm and play good defense in overtime. It’s defense first, then figure a way to get the puck into the net.”

There was little reason to believe the Filvvers would need extra time when Fortner gave them a 5-1 advantage from point-blank range 8:59 into the second period.

Central, however, had different ideas.

Six minutes later, the Trojans trimmed their deficit to 5-2 when senior forward Sebastian Brons-Piche beat sophomore net-minder Evan Hedtke on a hard left-angle shot.

It stayed that way until 8:17 of the third frame when sophomore forward Drew Swanson scored from the doorstep to bring the Trojans within 5-3.

Senior forward Joe Michno brought Central within 5-4 from the low slot two minutes later and Swanson tied the contest from inside the left circle with 2:31 left in regulation.

“That was a great push back by our kids,” said Trojans’ coach Chris Givens. “They could have packed it in very easily. When we got into overtime, we thought we could build on that momentum. This has been a great learning experience. Last year, we were out of it after one playoff game. Our schedule is tough, but the guys will be better for it. We had seven or eight state-ranked teams on this year’s schedule.

Kingsford scored three times within the first 7:02.

Senior Nick Murvich scored from the low slot just 26 seconds into the contest and added his second goal from the doorstep at 4:02.

Sophomore forward Reece Fortner then gave the Flivvers a three-goal cushion on a rebound at 7:02.

“Sometimes they come too easy and the kids start taking it for granted,” said Kingsford coach Dennis Murvich. “I think they started to relax. We didn’t back check well. We need to be better defensively and do better on rebounds. We also need to be better tying people up in front of the net.”

Kingsford’s lead grew to 4-0 just 22 seconds into the second period when senior defenseman Sawyer Perpich hit a goal from the low slot.

Central got on the board 3:11 later on a rebound by sophomore forward Charlie Douglass.

Kingsford had a pair of goals waived off during the contest, including an apparent game-winner by Fortner at the final buzzer of regulation.

“We knew we had to get the puck in No 8’s hands, and I thought it went in,” said coach Murvich. “I couldn’t be more proud of these guys. They were calm. Nothing seems to faze them. After the second period we told the guys ‘if you let them get the next one, you’re in for a battle.”

Daunte Fortner had three assists for a playmaker to go with his two goals. Kendra had a pair of assists for Central.

Kingsford finished with a 45-41 shots on goal edge. Hedtke stopped 36 shots and Torres had 39 saves.

TC Central 0 2 3 0 0 — 5

Kingsford 3 2 0 0 1 — 6

First Period

K — Murvich (D. Fortner), :26

K — Murvich (D. Fortner) 4:02

K — R. Fortner (D. Fortner), 7:20

Second Period

K — Perpich (unassisted), :22

TCC — Douglass (Kendra), 3:33

K — Brons-Piche (Kendra) 14:59

Third Period

TCC — Swanson (unassisted), 8:17

TCC — Michno (Knowles), 10:17

TCC — Swanson (Peters, Lucas), 14:29

Second Overtime

K — D. Fortner (Murvich), 1:46

Shots on goal: Kingsford 45, TC Central 41

Power plays: Kingsford 0-1, TC Central 0-1

Goaltender saves: Kingsford (Hedtke 36), TC Central (Torres 39)

Penalty minutes: Kingsford 1-2, TC Central 1-2.