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Mt. Pleasant continues magical season with thrilling overtime win over Tri-Valley WITH PHOTO GALLERY

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A season of magic continued Saturday afternoon for the Mt. Pleasant High School hockey program.

Max Trucks scored his second goal for the Oilers at the 5:42 mark of overtime at I.C.E. Arena, completing a comeback in which the hosts overcame a two-goal deficit and never led until the final tally.

The victory moves the record to 11-1 for Division 3 honorable mention Mt. Pleasant as it bounced back from its first defeat of the season at Midland in its previous contest.

“We didn’t play very well over the first half of this game but we were able to get back to our style of play,” Oilers coach Mike Willett said. “It paid off in the end. This was a nice, gritty win for us.”

Trucks’ second goal of the game gives him 14 on the season in 12 games, while he also has tallied 15 assists.

But if you ask Trucks about his goal total, you will find out where his priorities lie.

“I have no idea how many goals I have, but I know exactly how many wins we have,” Trucks said.

The game-winning goal for Trucks came right after Kaleb Ramon took a shot from the point and it hit Trucks, who managed to swat it in on the redirection.

He described afterward what happened on the final play.

“It was kind of just a broken play,” Trucks said. “I happened to be in the right place. It was a great shot by my teammate and it was a great win for us.”

Ramon and Nodin Jackson each received an assist on the sudden death goal.

Mt. Pleasant entered the game without its top scorer in Zach Heeke (18 goals, 18 assists), who re-aggravated a shoulder injury against Midland and is projected to miss the next six weeks.

It showed early as Tri-Valley built up a 2-0 lead through one period as the Oilers tried to figure out life without their best player.

“Whenever there is an injury you have a small period of time to re-acclimate,” Willett said. “For me, that was the first period. Zach is on all special teams, he starts periods and ends periods. We were trying to get guys in their new roles. Sometimes it takes a period or two, so luckily we were able to figure it out quickly.

Max Trucks got Mt. Pleasant on the board three minutes into the second period with Ramon and Kyle Trucks assisting.

With Heeke out, Willett watched as Max put his team on his back at times.

“I think Max decided to carry us a little bit,” said Willett. “He’s figuring out when to balance his skill with just chipping and going. He had a really good game. He was the energy guy who gave some fire to the other guys. Without him, we probably don’t win this one.”

Kyle Trucks tied it up with 6:31 to go in the second period on an assist from Jackson, but Tri-Valley took the lead back at 3-2 two-plus minutes later.

Early in the third period, sophomore defenseman Isaac Angera evened it back up at 3-3 on a wrister from inside the blue line. Mitchell Haines and Kyle Reihl assisted on the score.

It all set up the overtime dramatics from Max Trucks.

“It says a lot about what this team is made of to win this game without (Heeke) in there,” Trucks added. “Zach is one of the best players in the state and he is still going to provide a lot with leadership and everything he does with us off the ice, but we know we all have to step up to make up for his absence on the ice.”

Mt. Pleasant out-shot the Titans by a margin of 26-20, while Oilers goalie Andrew Lambert accounted for 17 saves.

With a young core of talent poised to take steps forward when the season opened, Mt. Pleasant was likely to improve on last year’s seven-win campaign but you would be hard-pressed to find anyone who expected this kind of leap forward.

“I never would have expected it, but the deep talent we have has taken us a long way,” added Trucks.

Willett concurred with his junior forward.

“I came into the season and I didn’t know what to expect,” Willett said. “And that’s probably a good thing, because this would have been above my expectations. But that’s a true testament to this group. They’re continuing to gel together in stronger fashion than most teams I’ve coached. They’ve had a great camaraderie. When you have 17 guys sprinting in the same direction, it’s tough to stop them.”

Next up for the Oilers is a huge home test Wednesday at 6 p.m. Saginaw Valley High School Association powerhouse Flint Powers, ranked seventh in Division 3.

Willett outlined some of the main keys in hanging with a team the caliber of Flint Powers.

“On paper, everyone in the state has Flint Powers winning by a few goals,” said Willett. “Whenever you go against a fast team with talent, you just have to be physical. You don’t need to blow them into the boards, just give them a physical game to slow them down and give us a chance to get going in their zone. Our defensive zone has to be very disciplined, we have to be physical, and we have to capitalize on any chances we get.”

Last Updated: 1/17/2015 7:59:56 PM EST