EDITOR'S NOTE: For Tout videos from this game, scroll to the bottom of the story. Check out our Tout widget — on the right side of this page, for plenty more videos from Oakland County sporting events.
BLOOMFIELD HILLS — Clarkston senior co-captain Jacob LaPorte played the role of the Grinch in Clarkston’s Holiday Tournament on Saturday night.
That’s because LaPorte’s game-winning goal in overtime completed a two goal come back, and helped the Wolves steal a win the tenth annual Clarkston Holiday Tournament with a 3-2 win over Novi.
“This is the first time we’ve won our tournament in about five years,” Clarkston head coach Bryan Krygier joked.
“I’ve never had the opportunity to beat (former Novi head coach) Todd (Krygier), but it was good to see Novi again in the finals because it’s always a good match-up and it’s always a good game. We had to scramble a little bit to bring the game into over time.
“But, we had to push the puck towards the net and in overtime anything can happen.”
That scramble occurred midway through the third period where Clarkston (8-3-1) found themselves down 2-1.
With 11:41 left in the final stanza, Clarkston tied the game when senior forward Carter Rea threw in a rebound from a shot that was ripped from the point by fellow senior Chase Wiedemann that caromed to the short side of the net to tie the game at 2-2.
LaPorte would then finish the job and complete the comeback with 1:24 left in overtime, when he walked the puck from the far side boards, around the net, and offered a wrist shot to the short side. The puck trickled through for the game winning, 3-2, goal.
“Jack LaPorte definitely led by example tonight,” Krygier said. “There’s absolutely no better way to lead by example than to score an overtime goal.
“He didn’t play Friday because of an injury. But, I’m proud of the way he’s been able to push through it and to come back and show a lot of effort and poise to get that shot off.”
Up to that point, however, Novi (6-5-0) carried the pace of play throughout most of the game.
After a power play goal scored by Clarkston’s Roman Reiner in the first period, the Wildcats turned on the pressure that led to its first goal of the game.
With 9:58 in the period, Novi senior Chris Kennedy stole the puck and pushed it along the near side boards to junior Brendan Wexler creating a two-on-one. As the two pushed onward, Wexler held onto the puck and went top-self to tie the game at 1-1.
From that point on Novi used a great penalty kill to stem the tide of the game, including stopping a five-on-three the Wildcats would take the lead soon after getting back to full strength.
With 4:00 left in the second period, Novi senior Josh Ward secured the puck deep in the Wolves end. As he approached the end boards he found Mark Czapski skating to the slot. After receiving the pass, Czapski ripped a wrist shot for a 2-1 lead.
“We’ve been working on our penalty kill a lot in practice, but not a whole lot with our 5-on-3’s,” Novi head coach Mark Vellucci said.
“We’ve been stressing to keep go out and play tight defense, and to get in the passing lanes. However, we worked on the 5-on-4 the most with each of our four lines. We wanted to make sure that no matter who is out there that we can kill the penalty.”
Despite the play however, the Wolves carried the pace the rest of the game including overtime where Novi didn’t receive a shot on net. That was the difference in the game according to Vellucci.
“It was a great overall game between two evenly matched teams. But having said that, we didn’t get a shot in overtime,” he said.
“To (Clarkston’s) credit, they bounced back and got the puck in deep that lead to the goal that just happened to trickle in, but that happens sometimes. The effort was there in both games this weekend unfortunately one team had to lose.”
The Wildcats are still adapting to their new schemes and but lately they were turning the corner having won three straight games heading into Saturday. Vellucci credits that to the play of Wexler and also his third line.
“(Niklas) Tewilliager, Gage Fisher and Drake Shepard have all played well. They have created our most consistent line the last five games, despite being our third line.
“I thought Brendan (Wexler) played well too creating a lot of chances. We just need to keep getting the first two lines playing that way. We’re a team of great depth and if all of our lines can play well, we’ll be fine.”
Both teams will receive a two week break for the holidays before starting the second halves of their seasons, where both coaches hope to make playoff runs.
CLARKSTON 3, NOVI 2 (OT)
N 1 1 0 0 — 2
C 1 0 1 1 — 3
First Period: 1, C, PPG, Roman Reiner (Matt Matynowski); 2, N, Brendan Wexler (Chris Kennedy)
Second Period: 3, N, Mark Czapski (Josh Ward)
Third Period: 4, C, PPG, Carter Rea (Chase Wiedemann)
Overtime: 5, C, Jacob LaPorte
Goalkeepers: C, Jack Viazanko (34 saves); N, Austin Petty (26 saves)
RECORDS — Clarkston 8-3-1; Novi 6-5-0