Lions earn point, but drop both games to Marian

Lions force overtime, fall to Sabres, 4-3

HANCOCK — With just 1:40 left in regulation, it appeared that the Finlandia Lions men’s hockey were on their way to a split with the Marian Sabres Saturday at the Houghton County Arena. Upon review, the goal was called back, and the Sabres were able to strike in overtime to come away with a 4-3 overtime win and five of the six possible points on the weekend in NCHA play.

For Lions coach Joe Burcar, to have his team battle back from a 3-1 deficit and then appear to have the go-ahead goal, only to have it taken away, the decision to call the goal back was very disappointing, given how hard his team worked to earn it.

“At the end of the day, it’s just frustrating, because we scored a good goal at the end,” said Burcar. “Was it in? I don’t know. I’d have to look at it on film, which I will tonight. But, I thought it was a heck of a nice goal.

“To be down in the third period, 3-1, and to fight back, and we scored a shorty (shorthanded goal) to fight really back. We did so many good things. Guys did a lot of good things tonight. So, it’s frustrating not to get the extra point out of it.”

The Lions trailed 2-0 in the second period when freshman winger Matteo Ybarra found space in the offensive zone to the left of Sabres goaltender Aaron Brunn. Alternate captain Max Messier got the puck over to him and he buried it with 31 seconds left in the middle frame to get Finlandia on the board. Sophomore Garrett Alton also assisted on the tally.

The Sabres regained the two-goal lead 1:47 into the third period, and the Lions could have packed it in at that point. However, Ybarra found time and space shorthanded while Messier was off the ice for a penalty. Ybarra took a lead pass, skated in alone on Brunn, deked to his forehand, fell, and yet still poked the puck past the Sabres netminder for a goal at 5:42.

Burcar was proud of the way his team fought back hard.

“It was good to have Matteo have the puck,” Burcar said, “the guy that’s going in. He’s done that all season for us.”

The Lions continued to throw pucks at Brunn throughout the remainder of the third period, and eventually, they were rewarded again. After failing to score on two power plays, the Lions continued to find ways to pin the Sabres in their own end.

A clearing attempt by the Sabres was knocked down at the left point by sophomore defenseman Brendan Erickson. Erickson quickly threw the puck at the net, and it hit a Sabres’ forward on its way to Brunn, and bounced into the net at 17:17.

The Lions appeared to score the game-winning goal when a shot from Messier rebounded into the right circle, where junior winger Cooper Hoheisel was parked. Hoheisel threw the puck at the net, and it appeared to hit the post and bounce past Brunn and in. Upon discussion amongst the referees, they felt the puck actually slid under the net and in, rather than off the post.

The Lions started overtime with a power play, but could not find a goal, despite Messier getting a look from the slot.

With both teams still playing 4-on-4 due to the end of the penalty, the Sabres pushed the puck the other way and Jaymes Knee scored his second goal of the night at 1:49 of the extra session to give the Sabres the win.

Lions goaltender Dakota Meyer made 28 saves in the loss.

Lions fall 5-1 Friday to Sabres

HANCOCK — For the first 32 minutes Friday night, the Lions were hanging right with the Sabres, trailing just 1-0. Then, in a stretch of just under three minutes, the Sabres struck three times to put the game out of reach.

When the dust settled, the Lions fell, 5-1, at the Houghton County Arena.

The three-minute stretch was yet another in a string of instances where the Lions play a solid game only to be betrayed by a brief period where nothing goes as planned.

“We have these two, three-minute spans where they, all season long, they score one, and we can’t recover, and they get another one like that,” Burcar said. “I wish I could keep track of this. It’s happened to us a lot this year. We fight, we fight, we fight, we keep it tight, and then something like that happens, and it takes us minutes to get back, and we fight, but, that’s frustrating.”

The two teams were even after one period, but just 59 seconds into the middle frame, Matteo Pecchia beat Meyer with a wrist shot. From there, the Lions struggled to keep pace with the Sabres.

However, they did draw a power play 11:02 into the period. During the ensuing advantage, Brady Pupp found space in a similar spot to where Pecchia had earlier. He also beat Meyer with a wrist shot for a shorthanded goal at 12:21.

The Lions reeled from that goal, which created a situation where Sabres forward Daunte Fortner could bat home a rebound at 15:13. Lions captain Phil Schader took a penalty as tempers flared after the goal, leading to a Sabres’ power play.

Just five seconds into the advantage, Jack Sampson stole a puck, skated into the slot and beat Meyer with a wrist shot, giving the Sabres a four-goal advantage.

“We won the face off,” Burcar said, “and I don’t know what happened. I have to look at the film. One of the guys said he poked it past him, but again, we won the face off. So, blown coverage, blown assignment, we’ll just say that.”

Messier responded with a goal 3:39 into the third when he pounced on a rebound off a shot from alternate captain Nate Holm and buried it.

The Sabres regained their four-goal lead in the game’s final minute while on the power play.

Meyer made 34 saves in the loss.


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