For a while it appeared as though Eastview’s Jordan Brothers was going to have to resort to gnawing his skate off in order to escape from the between-the-legs clutches of St. Thomas Academy’s Tommy Stattine.
But one last tug allowed Brothers to break free, just in time snatch a loose puck as he cruised into the slot.
Brothers faked a pass and then rifled a shot that sailed just over St. Thomas Academy goaltender Matt Schoephoerster’s catching glove, inside the right goalpost and into the net, giving the No. 5 seed Lighting a 2-1 double-overtime victory over the No. 4 Cadets in Friday's Section 3AA semifinal at Braemar Arena.
“I popped back up and the puck was just sitting right there,” Brothers said after the game, still dumbfounded by his good fortune. “I got a two-on-one earlier, I think in overtime one, with John Kisch and I passed it over. And I knew I had the whole side of the net open.
“So I decided to shoot this time. Take our chances.”
Eastview coach Aaron Fulton was, of course, happy with Brothers’ decision. Even if Brothers had failed to score, Fulton would have approved of the choice to shoot. Lightning coaches had been emphasizing all through the overtime periods that there was no such thing as a bad shot.
"You get to that point in games where guys are tired like they were," Fulton said. "Just funnel everything toward the net."
The way the two teams played conservatively on offense (at least one forward hanging back at all times) and airtight defensively all night, there was no such thing as a prime scoring chance. Until a Cadets turnover landed on Brothers’ stick.
“He did a nice job of being patient,” Fulton said. “He kind of opened up a shooting lane, and he's a shooter. So he shot it. It was a great goal.”
The goal was Brothers’ team-leading 13th of the season and biggest of his life. It sends Eastview (17-10-0) to its first section title game since 2018. The Lightning, who play No. 1 seed and No. 1-2A ranked Cretin Derham Hall in Thursday's Section 3AA championship, haven’t reached the state tournament since 2013.
“We’ve all dreamed about this since we can’t even remember,” said Brothers, who had rattled a shot off the right goalpost in the first overtime. “So to win this one was huge.”
Brothers’ goal came with 2:59 left in the 17-minute second overtime period. It was the first game this playoff season in either class to extend into a second extra session.
The loss halted St. Thomas Academy’s run of five-straight state tournament appearances.
“It was just kind of a crazy broken play at the end,” St. Thomas Academy coach Trent Eigner said. “And so, you know, they take advantage of a grade A chance.”
The Cadets, ranked No. 18 in Class 2A, finish the season with a 13-13-1 record. The last time St. Thomas Academy didn’t finish above .500 was the 2002-03 season, when the Cadets went 3-24-0.