The championship game of the playoffs for the Northern States Junior Hockey League proved to be just as tight and action packed as the regular season.
The Syracuse Stampede beat the Lake George Fighting Spirit 5-4 to win the league’s “NSHL Cup” finals. Syracuse’s Viktor Lundgren scored with 4:41 remaining in the 3rd period to break a 4-4 tie, proving to be the difference in an action packed final contest.
The Stampede broke the game open early with two goals in the first 5 minutes of the game. Syracuse Captain Kyle Williams opened up the scoring with a point shot that found its way to the back of the net. Josh Sova and Alex Foster added the helpers on the goal. Just minutes later, Mike Iselmoe crashed the net on a shot by Rick Runyon, slipping the puck between the legs of Fighting Spirit netminder Nate DelGiudice. The Fighting Spirit got back on track and sustained pressure in the Stampede end towards the end of the first period, resulting in a power play for the efforts. On the ensuing power play, Lake George Assistant Captain Henrik Linden ripped a loose puck through a pair of screens, beating Syracuse goalie Trace Pennock with just 1 second left on the clock.
In the 2nd period, both teams exchanged scoring opportunities early on, however neither team was able to capitalize on their chances. It wasn’t until midway through the second, on another Lake George power play, Henrik Linden buried his 2nd goal of the game on a point shot passed by Mitch Purdie, tying the game 2-2. Exactly one minute later, Syracuse regained the lead on a power play goal of their own. Brandyn Morgan tapped home an Alex Huizenga pass, putting the Stampede back on top by a score of 3-2. Dalton Moore added the other assist on Morgan’s power play goal. After 40 minutes of play, the score was 3-2 in favor of the Stampede.
The 3rd period was an exhilarating display of what hockey is all about. The two teams battled for every puck, leaving everything they had on the ice. Both teams came out on fire, trying to get the pivotal next goal. On a Lake George dump in, Stampede goaltender Trace Pennock played the puck to Nicklas Pettersson, who looked up ice and hit a streaking Alex Foster for a breakaway pass. Foster released a quick snap shot in the upper corner, giving the Stampede a 4-2 lead. However, the Fighting Spirit responded passionately to the Stampede’s 4th goal. Rather than folding, the young men from Lake George took their play to another level. They regained the momentum with their hard work, showing their never quit demeanor. Blake Tarbell cut the Stampede lead to 1 after he made the Stampede pay for a defensive zone turnover, releasing a quick snap shot into the back of the net. Lake George continued to battle carrying the momentum through the middle of the 3rd period. Off a faceoff in the Stampede zone, Fighting Spirit Captain Tyler Simmons won the draw to a streaking Mike Gough, evening the score 4-4 with 6:19 left in the third.
Just as they had done all game long, the Stampede found an answer to the Lake George comeback. With just under 5 minutes remaining in the 3rd period the Stampede found their spark, sustaining pressure in the Lake George zone. Syracuse defenseman Dalton Moore took advantage of the tired opposition, controlling a loose puck and shooting it to the net. In the right place at the right time, Stampede veteran Viktor Lundgren put home a rebound, placing it just under the bar, in what proved to be the game winning goal.
The hard fought battle between the top two teams in the NSHL ended with the Syracuse Stampede edging out the Lake George Fighting Spirit 5-4, making the Syracuse Stampede the 2012-2013 NSHL Cup Champions. Syracuse forward Jon Lauer was awarded playoff MVP.
Both the Syracuse Stampede and the Lake George Fighting Spirit will represent the Northern States Junior Hockey League in the AAU National Tournament, held in Las Vegas, NV April 5-9.
2012-2013 NSHL Playoff Results
#2 Syracuse Stampede (W)
#7 New England Stars (L)
#3 Trenton Habs (L)
#6 Eastern Kodiaks (W)
#4 Junior Mariners (L)
#5 Cape Cod Islanders (W)
#1 Lake George Fighting Spirit (W)
# 6 Eastern Kodiaks (L)
# 2 Syracuse Stampede (W)
# 5 Cape Cod Islanders (L)
NSHL Cup Finals-
# 1 Lake George Fighting Spirit (L)
#2 Syracuse Stampede (W)
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