Allen Park found themselves down by two goals just 10 minutes into the first period on Wednesday night, but blanked the visiting Riverview Gabriel Richard Pioneers for the rest of the game while escaping with a 4-3 victory.
Danny Metropoulos would score the eventual game-winning goal in the third period, but the Jags had to first overcome allowing three goals on a total of five shots in the first period.
Chace McCardle started the scoring for Allen Park (14-3-1 overall) when he beat Richard goaltender Nolan Kopytko (JR) at the 5:27 of the opening period. Brandon Matelic and Cameron Gee picked up assists on the McCardle goal.
But the Pioneers (5-10-2 overall) scored their first of the game one minute later when Chance Desana (SO) registered an unassisted goal. He put the puck past Jags goaltender Jarod Potasnik on the first shot of the game for Richard.
Following two Allen Park minor penalties one minute apart, the Pioneers capitalized on a 5-on-3 power play as Zach Slowik gave the visitors the lead at the 8:52 mark of the period. Cam Ramirez (SO) and Nathan Palumbo (FR) picked up helpers on the Slowik (SO) goal.
With just under seven minutes to play in the opening period, the Pioneers went up 3-1 when Austin Harrison (FR) put the puck behind Potasnik. Nathan Vazquez (FR) tallied an assist on the even-strength goal.
The period ended with the 3-1 Pioneer advantage. Both teams recorded five shots on goal for the first 17 minutes of play.
Jags defenseman Kiernan O’Connell scored an unassisted goal midway through the second period to cut the deficit in half, but the dagger of the game was the late goal by Joey Cullinan to tie the game with 44 seconds left in the period.
John Lizzyness and Ross Goodfellow picked up assists on the game-tying score.
Allen Park out-shot the Pioneers eleven to four in the second period.
The third period was all Allen Park, as they kept the play in the Pioneer end of the ice for most of the period. Although Richard had a few scoring chances, it was too much Jags, as the hosts outshot the Pioneers thirteen to three in the final stanza.
The Metropoulos game-winning goal came on the powerplay after Richard’s Ramirez (FR) was sent to the box for a hooking penalty.
Ramirez slid the puck past Kopytko (JR) at the 11:20 mark, with assists going to McCardle and O’Connell.
Kopytko played well, making 25 saves on the 29 shots he faced–many of them at point blank range.
“Nolan played real well. There were a couple times where we left him out to dry,“ said Richard Coach Rick Desana.
Potasnik turned away nine of the twelve Pioneers shots he saw.
The two teams met on December 1st of last year with Allen Park winning 4-1 at Richard.
“We’re much better structurally as far as our forecheck and our d-zone,” said Desana when asked to compare where his team is now compared to in December. “For us to compete with a team ranked number five in division three is something I’m proud of.”
Richard was scheduled to play Detroit Country Day on Thursday, while Allen Park will face Plymouth on Feb. 2 at the MIHL Showcase in Trenton.