By Tim Donohoo
For the Courier
ARVADA — Hanging high above the seats at the Apex Center is a banner commemorating Ralston Valley’s 2013 5A state ice hockey championship. When Dakota Ridge and Bishop Machebeuf took the ice Feb. 21 in the first round of the CHSAA state tournament both teams knew the tall task before them.
As it turned out, Machebeuf handled it better, but just barely.
Junior Anders Saarela flicked a wrist shot that found the top portion of the net midway through overtime and the Buffaloes won the game 3-2. The game-winning goal was assisted by juniors Jack Longenecker and David Belfance.
Machebeuf featured the state’s top two scorers in speedy senior Nick Rems (30 goals, 34 assists) and Longenecker (19 goals, 28 assists), but Dakota Ridge drew first blood with a goal off a rebound from Reed Hoogenboom at the 7-minute, 18-second mark of the opening period. Forwards Zach Williams and Ben Hoogenboom assisted on the play.
Machebeuf tied the game at a goal apiece following a wrist shot from Rems with 2:48 remaining in the first period.
Machebeuf killed a Duncan McIntosh high-sticking penalty at the 14:15 mark of the second period before taking a 2-1 lead as junior Ian Baker found the back of the net with just 14 seconds left.
Forward Zach Czarnecki scored from in front of the net with just 53 seconds left in the game to tie the game at two and send it into overtime.
The five-minute overtime period began with the Eagles on the power play for 48 seconds. Machebeuf killed the remainder of the penalty and was given a power-play opportunity of its own with 3:36 left when Eagles junior Bryce Lang picked up the holding infraction. Saarela quickly responded with the game-winner.
With the playoff loss, Dakota Ridge’s season ended with a 12-4-4 record.