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Woodhaven forces late tie, bounces Dearborn Unified in OT of regional semifinal

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For almost 50 full minutes, Dearborn United held a lead against the Woodhaven hockey team.

But when you keep plugging away at the net the way the Warriors did, the bounces are bound to start going your way.

On Thursday night, Woodhaven overcame two separate two-goal deficits to stun Dearborn Unified by scoring a goal with 35 seconds left in the third period to tie it, and then another late in overtime to win the game 4-3 and advance to the regional final game.

Zack Benevides of Dearborn Unified had his team thinking upset when he scored a pair of unorthodox goals - one 34 seconds into the opening period and then the other 33 seconds into the second period - to put DU up 2-0 a little less than midway through the game.

“Sometimes you just think, ‘man it’s not our night the way these bounces are going,’” said Woodhaven Coach Bryan Sullivan. “The first goal I think our goalie got screened by our defenseman and didn’t see the puck coming when it went over his shoulder and then the second, (Benevides) threw the puck out in front of the net from behind the net and the puck redirected off of our defenseman and went in.

“Those are just bad bounces for us. But that’s hockey. And from there, it was an uphill battle all night long.”

8:03 into the second period, the Warriors showed signs of life when captain Dominic Moore scored off of a beautiful pass by junior forward Nick Youngheim.

But in the ensuing minute, Woodhaven got whistled for two penalties and DU quickly took advantage of the 5-on-3 opportunity when Nathan Field banged in a rebound goal following a great save by Warrior goalie Trevor Monaco.

Alexander Robinson would score at the 5:17 mark for Woodhaven on a one-timer to cut DU’s lead in half heading into the third period, a period in which Sullivan thought his team really stepped their game up.

“I told the guys between periods ‘as much as you don’t want to hear it, if you want to practice tomorrow and play again this season, you have to go out there and do something in the third period,’” Sullivan said. “And they did. I thought they played with a lot more passion in the third period.”

After being outshot in the second period, Woodhaven fired more pucks on net than DU in the third, outshooting them 12-8, but DU goaltender Bryan Donaldson was up for the challenge, making big save after big save like he had done for most of the evening.

“Bryan is night and day from where he was at the beginning of the year,” said DU Coach Brian Dallas. “We definitely got something to grow on with him. He made great saves all night long, and their guy did too.”

Monaco stopped a breakaway attempt from his weak side with less than four minutes to go, and then Donaldson made a nice body save of his own just a couple minutes later against a shorthanded Woodhaven team.

With under a minute to go in the game, DU got hit with a penalty and Woodhaven took that opportunity to crack Donaldson’s code after over a period-long goalless drought, despite many scoring chances.

C.J. Yacuone banged in a one-timer with 35 seconds left to tie the game, 3-3, and ultimately sent it into overtime.

Sullivan said Yacuone was one of the guys they were looking for.

“We were trying to keep C.J., who is a right-handed shot, on the left side and look for him on the back door and look for (Moore), a left-handed shot on the right side depending on how the play unfolded.”

Once in overtime, DU looked completely outmatched against the Warriors’ offensive attack. Woodhaven fired off nine shots while DU managed only one.

“When you don’t clear the puck out when you have the chance, you’re scrambling,” Dallas said, reflecting on his team’s overtime performance. “A team on offense, driving, always has a little more energy than the team playing defense. We weren’t playing prevent by any means but when you can’t get it out, and you’re forced to stay out there longer while they slide some fresh troops in, bad things are going to happen.”

It seemed like a matter of time before Woodhaven would find the back of the net and with 1:25 left in the overtime, on the power play, sophomore Daniel Flahart found a wide open William Brock III out in front, who one-timed the puck over Donaldson’s shoulder and into the net, ending the game.

“I thought we really controlled the overtime,” Sullivan said. “That was an excellent pass by Danny and Billy buried the goal. You can’t fault anyone on that, that’s a hockey play. Their goalie played great all night long, we’re just really glad to be moving on.”

Donaldson stopped 43 of the 47 shots he faced on the night for DU.

Monaco made 27 saves and let in three goals.

Woodhaven will have a day to rest and regroup after the emotional win before taking on Plymouth in the regional final game at 6:30 pm on Saturday night, at the Dearborn Ice Skating Center.

Last Updated: 2/28/2014 12:44:41 PM EST