Hooksett, NH – Ryan Randall scored with 25 seconds remaining in overtime to push the Monarchs over the Syracuse Stars and gave the Monarchs their 5th consecutive EJHL regular season championship.
The contest started off with both teams unloading at the net, but goaltenders Blake Dougherty and Brian Billett making several spectacular saves. With 46 seconds remaining in the opening frame, Josh Larose found a crack in Billett when Mike Zalewski sent him on a breakaway. Larose skated through the neutral zone and shot the puck from the circle into the net.
The lead did not last long for Syracuse, as the Monarchs stormed out of the gate and Trent Ruffolo scored from Patrick Kiley just 49 seconds into the second period.
Charlie Mullan grabbed the lead for the Monarchs with 12:43 on the clock. Aaron Kesselman set Ryan Randall up in the slot and Randall fired the puck at Dougherty, who was unable to cover the rebound. Mullan skated in and roofed it over the goaltender to make it 2-1.
Ruffolo struck again in the final minute of the period. Goaltender Brian Billett sent a long clearing pass to Zak Stone, who skated into the zone with Ruffolo. Stone passed across the slot, and Ruffolo banged it home.
Syracuse got one back 5:14 into the final period when Josh Larose shot from the right wing towards the slot and Mike Zalewski tipped it past Billett.
Just 23 seconds later, Joe Wilson converted on a breakaway to tie the game. Mike Montagna and J.P. Witkop assisted on the play.
Neither Dougherty nor Billett yielded an inch in the final 14 minutes of regulation despite heavy pressure from both teams.
Overtime saw both teams play extremely tight defense, the result of which was only two shots on goal until the waning seconds. With only 25 seconds remaining, Patrick Kiley and George Lotito fed Ryan Randall in the circle and Randall sent it home.
Dougherty made 55 saves in the loss and Billett turned away 41 shots.
The win give the Monarchs their fifth consecutive EJHL Regular Season Championship and an automatic bid to the USA Hockey Tier III Junior A National Tournament in Marlboro, MA.
-Mike Klein, 28 February 2010