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The Journal Gazette

Saturday, March 12, 2016 10:03 pm

Leo rallies to win state hockey crown

Chris Schumerth | For The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS – After sneaking into the 3A state hockey championship by winning a pool-play tiebreaker, Leo made the most of its opportunity Saturday when it defeated Penn 3-2 on a sudden-death goal by Connor Bonecutter at the 1:29 mark of the third overtime period. 

Per rules, each team played only three players plus a goalie in the second and third overtimes.

"We played pretty much the same six guys in overtime," Leo coach Rick Wynn said. "The ice was terrible by then, and they were gassed, nothing left in the tank. But you have to ride your dogs."

In the third overtime, the officials had to go deep into the rulebook. What happens when both teams are playing with their three-plus-a-goalie and then both teams are also called for a penalty within minutes of each other? Is it three-on-three or four-on-four? Or three-on-four? 

The route to an answer required some discussion, but ultimately the teams continued to play three-on-three until Leo’s penalty ended and junior forward Connor Bonecutter was allowed back onto the ice to tip a power play advantage to Leo.

When his time in the box appeared to end, Bonecutter seemed hesitant to leave the penalty area, which caused quite the frenzy from his teammates, coaches and fans.

When Bonecutter finally went back on the ice, he scored seconds later.

"I thought the guy in the box told me I had to wait for a whistle," Bonecutter said. "But then he told me I was OK to get back on. Suddenly I was part of a two-on-one, and when I got the pass I tried to go far side, but instead the puck went near. When the net jumped, I couldn’t believe it. It was unreal."

Penn’s chances to defend its championship from a year ago had looked pretty good with a 2-1 lead late into the third period, but Bonecutter misdirected a slap shot into the goal with 2:07 left in the third period to ultimately send the game into overtime.

Bonecutter’s two goals completed a stellar tournament total of 13 points.

"I told my guys they did a great job, and that I’m proud of every single one of them," Penn coach Max Keagle said, despite the loss. "If we would have gotten a bounce here or there maybe things would have been different; it was just that kind of a game."