Feature photo courtesy of Amanda Statland.
In the mind of Zach Arden, there was no doubt that his team could comeback against Rider Saturday.
With under 20 seconds to go in the third period and Maryland down a goal, their season was on the ropes. Another loss for the seventeenth ranked Terps would make it practically impossible for the team to qualify for regionals.
The clock showed 15 seconds. Rider cleared the zone and forced Maryland to retreat back to the neutral zone. With Rider players stacked along the blue line, Maryland dumped the puck into the corner and chased.
As the last few seconds ticked away, the puck was moved to the point and was immediately sent back toward the net. The puck found the left pad of Rider goaltender CJ Lineman, and then it found Arden’s stick.
Arden shot it. The buzzer sounded. The goal counted.
And it may be the goal that saves Maryland’s season.
“You can’t ever think that you’re not going to win until the buzzer sounds,” Arden said.
Arden’s last-second goal forced the game into overtime, where Eli Gorgevski-Share would end it 2:45 into the extra period. The Terps won 4-3.
“Those kind of plays a lot of guys would give up there,” head coach Jim Gaudet said. “Basically half a second left on the clock when he shot that puck. But he doesn’t give up and did a really good job there.”
Maryland appeared to be in control late in the second period, with a 2-1 lead and receiving rock-solid goaltending from Sean Rankin.
Things changed when Sean Pickens was given a five-minute major for hitting from behind and was ejected. The penalty gave Rider a five minute power play, in which they scored twice to take the lead.
“I talked to the ref and felt like he had to make the five-minute call, and I didn’t disagree with him,” Gaudet said. “We did an OK job on that penalty kill, we killed the five-on-three and then they got those two goals there. But again we beared down, killed the rest of the penalty, went to the locker room and just told the guys let’s try to keep it five-on-five for the third period.”
Rider carried the lead into the third and almost added to it with about six minutes left on a shorthanded breakaway chance. As the shooter deked he put the puck on his backhand and tried to slip it between Rankin’s leg pads. The senior netminder quickly took away the opening and turned the shot aside, keeping his team in the game.
“Sean played incredible,” Gaudet said. “He hasn’t gotten a whole lot of chances this year. Any goalie we have, we’re confident in, any player we have we’re confident in. So we put him in a big situation, we had complete confidence in him and he delivered in a big way.”
Rankin, who made his first start since November, stopped 19 of 22 shots.
The save gave the Terps a chance to tie it up late and with under two minutes to go, Gaudet pulled Rankin for the extra attacker. A Rider tripping penalty moments later gave Maryland a six-on-four advantage for the remainder of regulation.
“I’m just standing there waiting for a rebound, nobody picked me up,” Arden said. “It came to me, and it’s just kind of lucky, but we’ll take it at the end of the day.”
Shortly into the overtime period, Gorgevski-Sharpe capped off the improbable comeback with a shot from just above the goal line that hit off a body in front and went into the goal.
The win against eleventh ranked Rider Saturday, combined with only a two-goal loss to number five Penn State and a win against ninth ranked Rowan last Saturday is sure to move the Terps up in the rankings. But the team needs to keep winning if it hopes to find itself in the top twelve by season’s end.
“The win’s huge,” Gorgevski-Sharpe said. “It’s good for rankings, it’s good for team morale and we’re looking forward to the next one.”
Maryland hosts Kutztown Friday at Herbert Wells Ice Rink before traveling to Reisterstown Sportsplex to take on rival UMBC Saturday.
Edited by Abigail Bentz.
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