April 13, 2017 - Federal Hockey League (FHL) - Danville Dashers
DANVILLE- If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.
Danville forward Brian Soskin adhered to that philosophy on Wednesday night at the David S. Palmer Arena.
Soskin was in the perfect position when A.J. Tesoriero slid a pass his way, but his attempt for a one-timer went awry - Soskin had whiffed.
But the 5-foot-7, 180-pounder from Arlington Heights kept his cool and with one knee on the ice, Soskin slapped a shot right over the stick-side shoulder of Berlin goaltender Matt Kaludis for the game-winning goal.
The Dashers have evened the FHL Commissioner's Cup championship series at 1-1 with their 4-3 overtime victory over the Berlin River Drivers before 504 at the Palmer Arena.
"That's what we call an exit angle,'' Soskin said. "I messed up and luckily, it worked out for the best.''
And what did the long-time veteran of the FHL and the Dashers think about in those few seconds after he completely missed the puck.
"At that point, you don't want to lose the puck,'' he said. "It actually kind of works to your benefit. It changes the angle for the goalie and luckily for me, the defenseman bit on the first shot so I was able to follow through on the second attempt.
"It's one of those situations where you close your eyes and hope. Luckily, I saw it hit the the twine and everyone just attacked me on the ice.''
Danville coach Steve Harrison admitted it was the perfect ending for the Dashers to a game that demonstrated why Danville and Berlin are the last two teams playing the championship.
"That was an awesome hockey game for both teams,'' Harrison said. "There was goal goaltending and there was a lot of skill on both sides. It was a fun game to watch.''
And what about Soskin's game-winner?
"He was in the right place at the right time,'' Harrison said. "If you shoot the puck, there is a chance that it will go in the net. It was probably not the hardest shot but it went into the back of the net and that's all that matters.''
Soskin acknowledged that Danville felt like Wednesday's game was almost a must-win after Berlin won the opening game, 1-0 on Tuesday night.
"This was our Game 5,'' he said. "We didn't want to drive 24 hours after another loss. This was probably our biggest game of the year.''
Berlin coach Andre Niec said the River Drivers were looking forward to playing Game 3 at Notre Dame Arena on Friday night with a series tied at 1-1.
"We are very happy to go home with at least one victory,'' he said. "Danville has been No. 1 the whole season and we see that we can battle with them.
"It's who has more heart and more will that's going to win the series.''
The River Drivers actually had a golden opportunity to take a 2-0 lead in the series, but they couldn't convert a pair of 5-on-3 situations - totally 1 minute, 37 seconds - early in the third period.
"That was one big thing,'' Niec said. "We should have scored on one of those 5-on-3 situations.
"Danville played very good defense and we have to give it to them tonight.''
Soskin also credited his team's penalty killers.
"It was a case of wanting it more than they and those guys just worked at it,'' he said.
The Dashers looked like a little different team on Wednesday night, as they jumped out to a 1-0 lead just 4 minutes and 28 seconds into the contest when Gehrett Sargis tipped on past Kaludis, who had stopped all 37 shots he saw on Tuesday night.
Marc Thompson set up the goal with a drive to the net and shot towards the net that was first tipped by Andrew Harrison before Sargis got the final touch.
Berlin scored the next two, taking a 2-1 lead.
Pavel Kubena scored a short-handed goal when intercepted a pass at center ice and skated in 1-on-1 against Louis George, beating the Danville goalie stick-side.
Another Danville turnover four minutes later set up Matt Fuller for a one-timer that made it 2-1 for the River Drivers.
"We shot ourselves in the foot,'' Steve Harrison said. "We gave up some goals that we are not used to giving up.
"Berlin has a great skilled team. You can't give them too many opportunities. We have done that and they have capitalized.''
The Dashers tied the game at 2-2 before the first intermission when Andrew Harrison backhanded a shot over Kaludis with 2:46 left in opening period.
In the second period, both teams thought they had scored only to have the on-ice officials not awarded either team a score.
Danville's Darius Cole had a shot appear to the goal judge to get into the goal but FHL official Ryan Harrison saw it differently and the play continued.
Less than 90 seconds later, Berlin had a shot bounce off the left post as the River Drivers bench appealed for the score. This time it was FHL official Trevor Waite ruling no goal.
Kubena made it 3-2 for the River Drivers with his second goal of the contest with 10:40 left.
Once again, the Dashers tied things up on a goal by Jonathon Juliano with 3:36 left in the second period.
Neither team scored in the third and Berlin had two of best chances in the overtime before Soskin netted the game-winner.
Both teams will make the nearly 1,200-mile journey from Danville to Berlin, N.H,, on Thursday.
Games 3 and 4 of the best-of-five series will be Friday and Saturday night at Notre Dame Arena. If the series would need a Game 5, that would be played at Palmer Arena next Wednesday.