The championship game of the annual Gabriel Richard Christmas Tournament was the type of matchup where you didn’t want to see either team lose. The contest was a close, hard-fought battle throughout.
In the end, however, a power-play goal by Riverview’s Gavin Holmes with 5:49 left in overtime was difference as the Pirates downed in city-rival and tournament host Riverview Gabriel Richard 3-2 on Saturday night at Wyandotte’s Yack Arena.
To advance to the championship game, Riverview (10-2) knocked off Allen Park Cabrini (1-9) in the semifinals, held the night before, by a score of 3-2. Richard (7-3) moved on with a 4-2 victory over fellow Yack Arena resident Wyandotte Roosevelt (2-8) in the semis.
“Coming into the game, we knew that GR is one of the top teams Downriver and we have a good group of kids so I expected that we would compete with them, said Riverview coach Anthony Schooley. “I think coming in our kids thought that maybe we didn’t have a chance but once that first period was over, they felt maybe we can keep up with these guys.”
Overall, the Bucs’ 10 victories this year matches their win total from the entire 2018-19 season.
On Saturday, Riverview got on the scoreboard first on an even-strength goal from Ryan Herzog, assisted by Holmes, with 9:30 left in the first period.
Both teams had power-play opportunities after the Herzog goal, with Richard getting the first crack, but neither club was able to capitalize.
With 4:10 left in the first period, the Bucs grabbed a 2-0 lead thanks to a goal from Holmes, who was assisted by Herzog and Tommy Dunne.
Down by two, the Pioneers quickly cut the deficit in half as Jake Emery netted a goal just a minute later. Austin Harrison picked up an assist.
With 5:09 left in the second period, it was Harrison who lit the lamp, on a power play, and evened things up at 2-2. Emery and Nathan Vazquez both earned an assist.
“We started playing a little bit better hockey and making some better decisions,” said Richard coach Rick DeSana. “You know we turned the puck over way too many times and that fuels the other team’s offense. They have a couple of very talented players and when you turn the puck over to them it is going to cost you and that is exactly what happened, they got two really nice goals.”
In the third period, penalties were the name of the game as Riverview picked up four and the Pioneers were whistled for two.
Late in the final period, it appeared that Richard had broken the tie with a goal. However, it was waived off the teams ultimately went into overtime deadlocked at 2-2.
Early in the extra period, the Pioneers were hit with a penalty. The Bucs promptly cashed in on the power-play opportunity, as Holmes scored his second of the night and the celebration was on for the Maroon and Gold. Earning an assist on Holmes’ game-winning goal was Dunne.
Between the pipes for Riverview was goaltender Josiah Dembrosky, who turned aside 22 of the 24 shots fired at him in the victory. Richard goaltender Drew Adams stopped 29 of the 32 shots he faced.
After the championship game trophy presentation, the all-tournament team was announced.
Herzog and Holmes were the Bucs’ selections while Emery and Robbie Chiles were the Pioneers’ honorees.
In Saturday’s consolation game, held prior to the finals, Cabrini knocked off Roosevelt 6-5 in overtime.
In Riverview’s 3-2 semifinal win over Cabrini on Friday night, Herzog scored two goals and Jack Lenden netted one.
Jake Geladin had two assists for the Bucs and one each came from Holmes, Aiden Gazdecki, Benjamin Lambert and Julian Johnson.
Evan Estes and Connor Earles both scored for the Monarchs while Evan Taylor and Andrew Seminara each picked up one assist.
In goal, Dembrosky saved 20 of the 22 shots fired at him while Brandon Hiuser of Cabrini turned away 22 of 25 shots.
In Richard’s 4-2 semifinal victory against Roosevelt on Friday, Chiles scored twice while Emery and Gavin Fink each had one goal. Harrison had three assists and one each came from Nathan Vazquez and Matthew Vazquez. In goal, Adams stopped 14 of the 16 shots he faced.