A tight-checking, hard-nosed hockey game ended in somewhat strange fashion in favour of the Trenton Golden Hawks on Wednesday.
Adam O’Marra banked in his second goal of Game 4 of the Southeast Conference Final off Wellington Dukes goalie Jacob Osborne’s right leg with 26 seconds remaining in regulation team to give Trenton a 3-2 win and a commanding 3-1 series lead.
Neither team got a whole ton of room to breathe in a game that saw only 46 shots on goal through 60 minutes.
Similar to Game 3, the host G-Hawks fell behind by a goal after the first period on Luke Strickland’s ninth of the playoffs at 12:53 of the opening frame.
Barret Joynt and Luke LaPalm drew assists.
Trenton knotted the count at one only five seconds into a powerplay, with O’Marra lasering a shot through a screen off a faceoff win at 6:32.
Ryan Holmes and Nathan Oickle picked up the helpers on the marker, which help juice the G-Hawks legs in the middle stanza.
Jacob Vreugdenhil had an answer with less than two minutes remaining in the second, rifling a hard wrister under Ben Bonisteel’s glove for his fourth of the playoffs.
LaPalm and Ed Moskowitz added the helpers on the Vreugdenhil tally, giving Wellington the lead after 40 minutes.
The game remained 2-1 in Wellington’s favour until a LaPalm penalty led to a frantic series of events on the ensuing powerplay.
After a brief scramble, the puck found its way to Matt Cato, who winged a shot low glove side that looked to be labeled for the net.
However, Osborne made a spectacular, almost acrobatic stop to rob Cato, who got the puck back moments later and used his quick release again to beat the Dukes goalie on the short-side at 10:34.
Cato’s team-leading 11th goal of the postseason set the game up for a photo finish, almost literally.
O’Marra looked for a pass out front and ended up with a sharp angle shot that hit Osborne’s open right pad perfectly and squeaked in with 26 seconds left to send the G-Hawks back to Prince Edward County on Friday with a chance to wrap the series.
Cato and Julien Gervais drew the helpers on #21’s seventh of the postseason.
The G-Hawks two most dangerous offensive threats (Cato and O’Marra) needed to come through in an important situation and they did, combining for five points.
Ben Bonisteel made 19 saves in the victory, while Osborne denied 22.
Trenton has a chance to make its first Buckland Cup final since 2017 with a victory in Game 5 at 7:30 on Friday at Lehigh Arena.