Chelsea hockey gives up early two goal lead in 5-2 state quarterfinal loss to Riverview
By Andrew Hillebrand, Mlive.com
Riverview senior goalie Zach Woolcott gave up two goals in the first period, but came back in the next two periods to shut down Chelsea and help his team win, 5-3, in a Division 3 boys hockey quarterfinal game in Allen Park on Wednesday.
Riverview will advance to the semifinals at Compuware Arena against Cranbrook-Kingswood at 12 p.m. Friday.
Chelsea held a 2-0 lead after the first period, but Riverview came back after the early barrage to tie it, 2-2, going into the final period.
Riverview led, 4-3, late in the third period, when Woolcott made a huge play to preserve the lead.
After Chris Hass deflected a Jay Helstowski shot into the net to give Riverview a 4-3 lead, Chelsea's Jacob Ryan had a chance to tie the game with 5:58 left.
But Woolcott made the save, one of 14 he made in the third period, to help seal the win for Riverview.
"Biggest save of my life," Woolcott said. "I was hoping he was shooting the whole way, to be honest."
After that save, Woolcott made several more as Riverview tried with all its might to keep the puck out of its zone.
Finally, with 28.3 seconds left, Kyle Agius scored an open-net goal to clinch the victory.
Agius also scored on a deflection with 11:51 left in the third period to give Riverview its first lead of the game, 3-2.
Ryan answered just 35 seconds later with a breakaway goal to tie it, before Woolcott stopped his second breakaway opportunity on the penalty shot.
"That has actually been our weak spot all year, goaltending," Riverview coach Al Taurence said. "I've been here for three years, and with this group of kids I needed a strong goaltender, so this was nice to see today."
Woolcott faced 16 shots in the first period, which included two Chelsea power plays.
Freshman Alec Daman scored first, with 7:56 left in the first period, and then senior Connor Carry scored a few minutes later.
The game slowed down a little in the second period, as Chelsea only mustered three shots, while Riverview only had six shots.
But the Pirates scored two goals, from senior captain Brian Bachnak and fellow senior Helstowski.
"In the second period, we just got away from what we were doing," Chelsea coach Don Wright said. "We took a couple penalties there. I didn't think we kept playing the way we did in the first.
"The second period was probably our worst period of the playoffs."
Chelsea outshot Riverview, 15-11, in the third period, but Woolcott continually closed the door on the Bulldogs' opportunities.
Woolcott saved 31 of Chelsea's 34 shots. This will be the second time playing in Compuware for Woolcott.
"My very first game freshman year of high school, we played a scrimmage against Plymouth at Compuware. (It) didn't go so well, so we're hoping to turn it around."
Wright and Chelsea are disappointed about not making it to the semifinals at Compuware for what would have been the third time in four seasons, but still happy with what was accomplished this season.
"Last year, we had our best record ever, we graduated a lot of seniors," Wright said. "This team did a great job to get right back and win the league, to win the region, and to be in position to get to the final four again."