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HOCKEY: Kerchner's last-minute goal helps Lake Orion tie Howell

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Hockey - Boys - 12/6/2012 

Lake Orion 3
Howell 3

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BLOOMFIELD HILLS – The Howell Highlanders and host Lake Orion Dragons skated to a 3-3 tie in boys hockey action Thursday night.

Marc Kerchner tied the game for the Dragons with 49 seconds left in regulation when he banged a rebound into the open back side of the Highlanders’ net. The goal also completed Kerchner’s hat trick on the night.

Overall, the game was a very even affair with each team mustering 32 shots on goal. The Dragons jumped out to an early lead when Kirchner made a nifty stickhandling move down low and fired a wrist shot that snuck across the goal line to open the score with 3:12 to play in the first period on what was the Dragons’ first shot on goal.

Howell would come out on fire in the second period, and shortly after Kirchener put the Dragons up 2-0 on early in the period the Highlanders took over. First it was AJ Mitter getting Howell on the board with a quick shot from the slot on a pass from Casey O’Doherty. O’Doherty then tied the game with 3:24 left in the period when he picked up a puck at center ice, weaved through three Dragon defenders and picked the top corner from between the circles to cap a spectacular individual effort and tie the game. But the Highlanders weren’t done, taking the lead less than 90 seconds later when Grant Gowan threaded a pass through a crowd of players onto the stick of Nick Pratt who was driving the back post and Pratt tapped in an easy one to make it 3-2 headed to the third.

“The guys started to come around in the second period, play a little bit harder, making smarter decisions with the puck, and that always leads to better opportunities,” Howell head coach Mike Mantua said.

“I thought we played two and a half good periods out of three,” Lake Orion head coach Nick Field said. “Obviously, we know you’ve got to play three full periods if you expect to win. We took half the second period off and found ourselves down a goal, but I was proud that they battled back to get the tie.”

The game was not without a bit of controversy however as the Highlanders had a goal disallowed with 6:44 to play in the third period after the net had been knocked off on the previous trip down the ice and no one at ice level noticed in time. “That’s one of those things where you just have to look forward, keep working hard and try to get more goals. You can’t control those things,” Mantua said.

Still, both coaches were happy afterwards as they saw progress from their teams as they gear up for league season.

“We’re improving,” Mantua said. “The boys are working hard every day trying to get better, and the boys are sticking to the game plan. It’s starting to click.” He also credited an all-around team effort for the result. “A lot of guys played really well. It was a good team effort. We had a short bench there, and as a group we’re starting to move forward together, so that’s very positive,” he noted.

Field expressed similar sentiments about his team’s play. “Overall, it was a solid team effort,” he said. “Obviously, we had a little lull in the second period where they scored all their goals, but other than that I thought everyone played well and had a good effort.”

Howell (2-4-1) next hosts Lakeland on Tuesday in a KLAA crossover game while Lake Orion ( 2-3-1) opens up OAA Red play on Saturday when they host Stoney Creek.

Last Updated: 12/6/2012 10:25:37 PM EST

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