The Canton Golden Bears pulled off a magical victory against the Massena Red Raiders, winning 3-2 in overtime. The Bears victory makes them Section X Division 1 Champions for the 2021-2022 season.
The Bears started off flat footed like in many other games this year. The preparation for this game started at the beginning of the year, and with all the work the Bears put in it became evident in this game that they were a competitive team. Massena saw the majority of shots in the first, but it took a power play late in the period for them to score. Canton held them to only one goal in the first, but was unable to get offensive zone time or opportunities.
The second period saw improvement from the Bears up and down the lineup. A more structured neutral zone held the majority of Massena’s offense at bay, and aside from the last 5 minutes of the period it was hard to gain any ground on the Bears. The Bears also found the back of the net in the second, when Tanner Hazelton won a faceoff back to Kaden Baxter, who passed across the ice and a rifle from Rhett Palmer and a presence in front of the net beat the Massena goaltender, tying the game at 1. The period was evenly played until the last few minutes, where defensive breakdowns and failed breakouts led to a goal from Massena. The period ended 2-1 Red Raiders.
Having been in situations like this for most of the year, Canton was not out yet. The third period was largely uneventful on the scoresheet, with only a few penalties and the game tying goal. Canton got outshot 40-24, and only 3 shots from Canton were from the first period. Canton had to score to keep their season alive, and aside from a save that kept Massena in the lead, Canton had shots but not scoring opportunities. The game was becoming more and more out of reach, and Canton was running out of time.
Canton pulled Senior Goaltender Hayden Todd to try to get an extra attacker, but just as he was getting to the bench a clear by Massena was going to go in. The shot took a lucky bounce and ended up going wide of the net, and as soon as the puck was out of the Canton zone Todd came to the bench. Rhett Palmer went to work in the offensive zone with just over a minute left in the game, and by moving his feet he drew defenders to himself. He brought the puck to the high slot and shot, and a deflection put the puck perfectly on Bradley Frank’s stick, and he tied the game at 2 with 55 seconds to go.
The game remained tied and went into overtime. A 7:30 period was put on the clock, and the Bears found themselves in another tense game. Canton had an offensive zone faceoff with just over a minute left in overtime, and a turnover near the blueline led to a 2-1 on Todd. After a pass, it was 1-0 with Todd, and he made a save to keep playing. Massena jumped on this opportunity and kept the puck deep for the next 20 seconds. Then, with 30 seconds left in overtime, the puck ended up in the Canton slot area, but Tanner Hazelton picked it up and flung it to the boards on the backhand. The angle of the puck was perfect for Rhett Palmer to take it off the bounce and score, with 22 seconds left in overtime. The Bears had won.
To get to this game, Canton had to beat Potsdam. Playing at home the Wednesday before, Canton had a poor showing in the first period, scoring only 1 and allowing Potsdam a goal. After that, it was all Canton all the way, and scoring came from everywhere. Rhett Palmer had a goal and four assists, Tanner Hazelton had 2 goals, Josh Aldous had a goal and an assist, Brandon O’shea, Garritt Palmer, and Jacob Rosales had goals and Reid Doyle, Johnny Mclear, and Garritt Palmer had assists as well. Canton ended up winning 7-3 in a comfortable victory.
Canton will play on Saturday, 1 p.m. at the Canton Pavilion against Suffern in the New York State Quarterfinals, for the opportunity to go to the Final Four.