by John Kennett
Despite the key addition of defenseman Trevor Roberts, the Dow High hockey team couldn't quite get past Saginaw Heritage, which beat the Chargers 3-2 on Tyler Angers' goal in overtime in Saginaw Valley League action at the Midland Civic Arena.
"I thought both teams played hard," said Chargers' coach Dick Blasy, who got 38 saves from Striker. "We both had quality chances. They just happened to get the overtime goal."
Blasy is pleased with what Roberts brings to his team.
"He just received the Hard-hat Award for playing hard and doing all the little things that don't show up in the scorebook," said Blasy. "He adds a physical presence and a chippiness. It seemed like some of the boys started to feed off him today. That's something we really need, more of a physical presence."
After playing for the Gladwin-based Mid-Michigan Storm last season and sitting out a semester after transferring to Dow, Roberts took the ice Wednesday for the first time since last summer.
"I haven't played since the summer league," said Roberts, a 5-foot, 11-inch, 170-pound senior. "The last game I played was when we (Mid-Michigan) played Dow in the districts. I love being back on the ice again and I'm excited for the rest of the season."
Roberts' toughness sits well with Chargers' forward Travis McNally.
"He's a bigger body, which is nice because we are a smaller team," said McNally. "He gives us an edge."
The Hawks got on the board first as Timothy Cornford found himself alone with the puck in front of the Chargers' goal. His back-hander, up high on the stick side, got past Dow goalie Derek Striker, putting the Hawks up 1-0 with just 1:08 left in the first period.
"I thought the first period was evenly played, yet we were outshot 11-3," said Blasy. "We were just as much in their end as they were in ours. But, we just weren't generating any shots on net. Between periods we talked about just putting the puck on net and forgetting about the pretty goal."
The strategy worked as the Chargers came out with a flurry to score twice in the first 1:18 of the second period, taking a 2-1 lead.
Just 13 seconds into the period, the Chargers went on the power play. Conrad Lather made the Hawks pay just three seconds later as he took a pass from Nick Kivi and found the back of the net, tying the game at 1-1.
Fifty-two seconds later, sharp passing gave the Chargers a 2-1 lead. Lather got the puck to Zach Paisley at the side of the goal, who passed the puck to a wide-open McNally in front of the net. McNally had an easy time finding the back of the net for a 2-1 Dow lead.
"We were forechecking and working hard," said McNally. "Conrad (Lather) deflected the puck to Zach (Paisley) and he gave it to me for an easy goal."
With 6:39 left in the third period, Kivi went to the penalty box for interference. Heritage's Nicholas Mauro got the puck 10 feet inside the blue line. His slap shot got past Striker, knotting the score at 2-2.
Both teams had solid scoring opportunities in the final six minutes of the third period, but Striker and Hawks' goalie Kevin Cressey were equal to the task.
"We played really hard and physical," said Roberts. "We just couldn't get the puck in the net and get shots off. We got a little anxious at the end and couldn't settle things down."
Just 36 seconds into overtime, Striker was screened from seeing Angers' shot from the right wing, and the puck got by the Chargers' goalie, sending Heritage home with its fifth victory against nine losses.
The Hawks improve to 3-2 in the SVL.
"It's all right, the goalie didn't see it," said Roberts. "It wasn't his fault. It just kind of happened."
The Chargers fall to 6-7 overall and 1-4 in the SVL and head to the Kalamazoo Blades Tournament for games on Friday and Saturday.
The Hawks held a 41-15 shots on goal advantage.