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HOCKEY: Late empty-netter gives Farmington Hills Unified win over Lake Orion WITH VIDEO

BLOOMFIELD HILLS — In a game that was all about great goalie play, it’s ironic that the winning game in Thursday’s OAA Red matchup between the Lake Orion Dragons and the Farmington Hills Unified Flyers came without a goalie in net.

With 25 seconds remaining in overtime, Lake Orion head coach Nick Field decided to pull his goalie while the puck was in Flyer territory.

After a slap shot on net from Farmington ricocheted off Flyers Goalie Jacob Ponders pad and out to the boards, a Flyers player got handle of the puck and lofted a pass down ice to Kyle Witherspoon, who wristed the puck in the net with just five seconds left in the overtime period to give Farmington Unified the 2-1 “win” on Lake Orion’s home ice.

The victory will not go into the books, however, seeing as the OAA Red doesn’t officially count overtimes in the standings. The game, as far as OAA officials are concerned, ended in a 1-1 tie after regulation.

Field made a conscious decision to pull the goalie knowing that the overtime period was essentially irrelevant, but he felt that if his team could have scored the winning goal that it would’ve given them a nice jolt of confidence.

“No matter what we were already in the standings as a tie,” said Field. “So at this point (in the season) we’ve had a lot of ties and a lot of one goal games and we just thought, you know, why not just try to go for a win. It would have been nice for the kids to get a win even if it doesn’t count in the standings, just to feel like they got a win no matter what.”

As it stands, Farmington Unified players and coaches can use the game as a morale booster, while on the other end of the ice, Lake Orion is more than pleased to call the game a tie.

The Dragons dominated the game from an offensive pressure and shots-on-goal perspective, as they outshot the Flyers 40-30 through three periods of play and overtime.

They got on the board first when Drew Casey banged a slap shot off the boards which bounced back out to Connor Moesta, who was in the right place at the right time to flip the puck in to the net.

The goal would be the only nylon a puck off of a Lake Orion stick would see for the remainder of the game.

Flyers goalie Jacob Ponder was a star for the last three periods of play making some acrobatic saves to bail out his defense who let more shots on goal than Farmington Unified head coach Ken Anderson would have liked to have seen.

“We made a lot of mistakes defensively and Jacob (Ponder) stepped up when we needed him to. The mistakes that we made he was there to save us and that’s what you need sometimes,” he said.

Ponder’s 39 saves was a season high for him. He was really well positioned for shots on goal all game long and he shined brightest on penalty kills where he shut Lake Orion down on all three of their attempts.

His greatest save of the game came after a slapshot by a Lake Orion Forward deflected off of a Farmington defender and over Ponder’s head causing him to do a little troubleshooting.

“(The shot) came off of my blocker at a weird angle and I saw it sitting about a foot away from the line so I dove back and grabbed it.”

The save was a site to behold and in retrospect it saved the game for the Flyers.

Both teams can take some positives away from the game. Lake Orion, it’s success keeping offensive pressure throughout, and Farmington Unified, the overtime “win” and solid goaltending performance.

Each squads will play its next game on Saturday as Lake Orion (4-7-4) will play Birmingham Unified in Birmingham and Farmington Unified (9-6-1) will play Stoney Creek at home.

Last Updated: 1/18/2013 1:51:23 AM EST

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