Davenport Halts Lakers in Four Overtimes
Shawn Beer had six goals, including the quick-stick game-winner in the fourth overtime, sending Davenport to the MCLA Division II championship game and ending Grand Valley State's quest for a perfect season.
© Cecil Copeland
Grand Valley State and Davenport combined to score 20 goals in the first half and 10 goals in the second half, but it took four overtimes to come up with a winner. And not only did Shawn Beer's quick-stick one-timer off a feed from Jordan Richtsmeier give Davenport (17-5) the 16-15 victory, but it also ended GVSU's (19-1) quest for a perfect season.
With the win, the Panthers advance to the MCLA championship game against St. Thomas, a team that has defeated Davenport in the last two national semifinals, on Saturday at 3 p.m. MDT at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colo.
Beer's goal was the sixth of the game for the senior, and capped off a series of chances by both team in extra time.
"I felt like it was somewhat of a coin flip when overtime started," said Davenport head coach Bob Clarkson. "I felt it was going to come down to a lucky bounce or a good opportunity. I felt like we both had opportunities in overtime."
Some of the chances came from Cam Holding, the division's most prolific player, who entered the game with 101 goals and 129 points. Holding finished with four goals along with an assist, but seemed to be hindered by the short-stick defending of Nathaniel Adkins.
Adkins shadowed Beer wherever he went – even to the point of leaving the Panthers with only two poles on the defensive end of the field when the ball was in the Davenport offensive zone.
"Cam's a heck of a player and we probably put our best athlete on him," said Clarkson of Adkins. "There's really no way of dealing with [Holding], but I feel like our best athlete has the best chance at limiting him. Sometimes we'd go to a zone and lock off Cam. That seemed to slow them down a little bit."
No one was slowed in the first half as the two teams were flying up and down the field, constantly attacking the cage. The teams remained within a goal of each other at the start, with GVSU holding a 4-3 lead halfway through the first quarter before Davenport rattled off three straight, the last two by Cody Cross, to give the Panthers a 6-4 lead.
In a preview of what would come at the end of the half, the Lakers scored with 2.5 seconds left to cut the lead to 6-5 after 15 minutes.
The teams were tied once again midway through the second when the Panthers made a run with Dominic Boggiano, Cross and Jack Turcotte all pocketed goals to give Davenport its biggest lead of the game, 11-8.
With 0.1 in the half, GVSU would cut the margin to two on a well-executed sideline play with 3.5 seconds left coming out of a timeout that was cashed in by Max Bielby for the 11-9 halftime margin.
The tempo slowed considerably in the second half. The two teams played nearly 10 minutes before Davenport scored two goals in just under two minutes to balloon the Panthers' lead to four, 13-9 as Richtsmeier and Boggiano connected.
"We both shortened our benches," said Clarkson. "We weren't playing many players at the end. Both teams got tired, I think that had a lot to do with it and I think both teams got used to what the other was doing. We compensated on what didn't work and modified. Both teams did that."
The Lakers would answer with a three-goal run, bridging the third and fourth quarters, capped by a Jack Dumsa crease roll to trim the lead to 13-12. The lead went back to 15-13 on Davenport goals six minutes apart, but Grand Valley finished with a three-goal skein to knot the game at 15. Holding scored the game-tying goal on long clear by the goalie and walked in on net.
Beer finished it over 12 minutes later in the fourth extra session.
The result flips the previous two games between these two CCLA rivals. GVSU won the first meeting handily, 16-5 in the regular season and 12-9 in the conference tournament championship game.
The game with the Tommies in the MCLA championship game will be a rematch for Davenport, as well. St. Thomas beat the Panthers, 11-8, on April 9 in St. Paul, Minn.
This is clearly a different team, however, and Clarkson agrees.
"We're getting better and better, and I think we're peaking right now."