After winning the exciting first round game highlighted below, United Hockey defeated Port Huron 7-1 to advance to the Regional Final vs. L’anse Creuse United on March 4th.
By Kevin Lozon of MediaNews Group
Rochester United senior Caden Ebinger made no mistake when the ultimate opportunity presented itself.
Ebinger took a crossing pass from Matt Kanaras and scored from the right circle with 1:57 left in overtime, lifting Rochester United to a thrilling 6-5 Division 1 regional quarterfinal win over Eisenhower at Mount Clemens Ice Arena on Thursday night.
“We didn’t have too many shots in that overtime period,” Rochester United coach Bryan Kowalski said. “We knew all it took was one. Ebinger went hard to the net and that’s a big senior line for us that have been scoring big goals all season long. I’m just proud of the way those boys worked hard today.”
The game-winning goal started when Eisenhower turned the puck over near center ice. Jack Myers fed a pass to Kanaras on the left wing, who crossed it over Ebinger, who one-timed a wrist shot past goalie Salvatore Carabelli.
Eisenhower sent the game into overtime when Jason Geiger netted his third goal of the game off a rebound with 9.4 seconds left in the third period. Jack Hammond assisted on the goal.
“We got that goal late and had the momentum going into overtime,” Eisenhower coach Bob Hall said. “We changed forecheck and we were more cautious about our defensive end. We didn’t protect our end one time, (Rochester United) got the turnover and came down and scored.”
Eisenhower came out flying, skating to a 2-0 lead after one period on goals by Justin Heilig and Geiger.
Rochester United played more physical in the second period and tied the game on goals by Kotaro Seguchi and Jack Myers, before Eisenhower regained a 3-2 lead on a Geiger’s second goal of the game. Rochester then added goals by Steve Myers and Justin Chevalier, taking a 4-3 lead into the third period.
“We came out with a game plan and changed it up in the second period,” Kowalski said. “We had to stick to our game plan and nobody else’s. The intensity had to be picked up because at the end of the day it was win or go home. We needed to step up.”
Eisenhower tied the game 4-4 on a goal by Hammond early in the third period, before Rochester United regained a 5-4 lead on the second goal by Steve Myers with 10:53 to play in regulation, setting up Geiger’s late hat trick goal.
“We just didn’t get the bounces,” Hall said. “It was an up and down game for us. We were a little lackluster on the defensive end and didn’t cover the slot well there for a while. We drew it up knowing what they were going to do and where we needed to be. We just weren’t covering it.”
Myers led Rochester United with two goals and an assist, while Seguchi added a goal and two assists. Rochester United goalie Caleb Godlewski made 33 saves in the contest. “Steve is playing at a high level for us,” Kowalski said. “He knew how big this game was and he told me before the game that he was ready for this one.”
Rochester United, which started the season 1-11 overall, is now 14-12 overall, with the win. They advance to Saturday’s regional semifinal contest against Port Huron at Mount Clemens Ice Arena.
“It’s tough when you have to play a game like this one the first one out,” Kowalski said. “These were two really good teams and programs. It seems like we play (Eisenhower) every year in the first round.”