The one play pretty much exemplified the whole game.
Tied 3-3 late in the contest with visiting Walled Lake Central on Saturday night, the Chelsea Bulldogs cranked up the offense on a rush deep inside the Vikings’ zone. Jacob Ryan led the attack, firing a great shot from the right side at Walled Lake Central goalie Sam Wozinicki.
The Vikings’ goalie made the save. And then another. And then another.
Finally, Ryan got the puck back and this time found a way past Wozinicki and into the Walled Lake Central goal to give Chelsea a 4-3 lead with 5:02 left to go in the game.
It was Ryan’s third goal of the night as the senior led the Bulldogs to a 5-3 win over the Vikings in the championship game of the 12th annual Chelsea Thanksgiving Classic at the Arctic Coliseum in Chelsea.
Chelsea’s Jacob Dobberstein scored an insurance goal off an assist from Taylor Atchley for the game’s final goal with 28 seconds left to play.
“Yeah, we had to work hard and there were a lot of battles we had to get through,” said Ryan. “We are battling a little bit of adversity after losing a lot of seniors from last year but we’ve started out good.”
The Bulldogs (3-0) didn’t start out too good in this game, mostly because of Wozinicki. The WL Central sophomore goalie made some impressive saves throughout the game, especially in the first period when he kept the home team off the scoreboard.
“Yeah, he gets in my head at first,” Ryan said. “I know I have to get one past him and get him rattled. And then they start coming.”
They certainly started coming for Ryan and the Bulldogs.
Despite a few breakdowns on the defensive end, Chelsea did a good job limiting the Vikings’ opportunities.
“I just wanted to keep it as close as I could for my guys,” said Chelsea goalie Charlie Miller, who also came up with some big saves at his end of the ice. “The other game we scored seven goals and I only faced five shots (in their 7-0 win Friday over Waterford Kettering). This one wasn’t as fast as I was hoping it would be, but I just try and keep it as close I could.”
With the game tied 2-2 after two, the Vikings started the third period on the power play after a roughing penalty on Chelsea with just 1 second to play in the second period. But the Bulldogs killed the penalty without incident.
Chelsea took a 3-2 lead at 11:52 of the third period on a shorthanded goal by Atchley. Dobberstein and Atchley both put the pressure on in the corner to help create the scoring chance. And Atchley buried it in the Vikings’ net.
Down 3-2, the Vikings had a two-man advantage for 51 seconds after Chelsea’s Connor Cary was called for slashing and joined Ryan in the box. But Chelsea held off the attack, thanks to a great glove save by Miller just after the first penalty had expired.
“It gets pretty tough back there moving around a lot,” Miller said of being two guys down. “I was able to make a couple of saves which kept our guys fresh. I just wanted to slow it down.”
They slowed them down for a bit before Walled Lake Central tied the game at 3-3 after Drew Kocoves got behind the Chelsea defense and beat Miller with a perfect shot with 8:33 left in the game.
But Ryan was able to net the game winner a few minutes later.
The Bulldogs finally solved Wozinicki at the 11:15 mark of the second period to take a 1-0 lead.
Joey Olmsted fired a shot from the point that bounced around out front of the net and Ryan banged it home, proving that Wozinicki couldn’t stop everything fired his way.
The Dawgs went up 2-0 at 8:31 of the second period on Ryan’s second goal and Olmsted’s second assist.
Walled Lake Central got on the board at 6:08 of the second period. From behind the net, Kocoves made a perfect pass out front to Brendan O’Malley, who slid the puck beneath the pad of Miller.
The Vikings tied the game at 2-2 with 4:45 left in the period on an unassisted goal by Adam Dennis after the puck ended up in front after good pressure by the Vikings in the corner.
The story of the first period was clearly the play of Wozinicki, who frustrated the Bulldogs especially during a power play midway through the period.
With around 8 minutes to play, Chelsea was buzzing. Ryan took a point-blank shot that Wozinicki stopped without giving up the rebound.
O’Malley was called for tripping at 10:45 and the Bulldogs went to work on the power play. But the Vikings’ goalie was more than up to the challenge. He stopped a good scoring chance off the stick of Atchley and then made a great stop on a shot by Eric Newman. Another good shot by Caleb Bentley was met with the same result.
With 3:43 left in the opening period, Atchley was called for roughing. But the best scoring chance came from Chelsea when Dobberstein broke in on goal and got off a nice shot that was again stopped by Wozinicki.
With 1:17 left in the period, the Vikings’ O’Malley broke through the Chelsea defense and got off a good shot that was handled nicely by Miller.
In the last minute of the period, the Vikings were called for high sticking but the Dawgs couldn’t find the back of the net and the period ended scoreless.