Newark was at its best during the third period while defeating top-seeded Hilliard twice to win the Greater Columbus High School Club Hockey League's Blue Jacket Cup title.

Newark was at its best during the third period while defeating top-seeded Hilliard twice to win the Greater Columbus High School Club Hockey League's Blue Jacket Cup title.

Alex O'Neill scored off an assist from Matt Congos with 2 minutes, 5 seconds remaining in the championship as the second-seeded Generals prevailed 4-3 on Feb. 25 at the Chiller Dublin. They outshot Hilliard just 28-24 overall, but held an 11-4 advantage during the final period before the Wildcats pulled their goaltender for an extra skater.

Newark also rallied from a 4-2 deficit in the final five minutes of the third period to win 5-4 in overtime against Hilliard during the winner's-bracket final on Feb. 18 as Congos scored the decisive goal on a breakaway.

"The third period is our period against them," Congos said.

Patrick Feldkamp, Drew Kennedy and Kenyon Clevenger had goals in the championship game for the Wildcats, who forged a 3-all tie when Clevenger scored off an assist from E.J. Graf with 17.2 seconds remaining in the second period.

"It's a tie hockey game, and we knew we had to bring our best for the last 15 minutes," said Hilliard coach Wade Bartley, whose team held a 2-1-1 advantage over Newark during the regular season. "Give them credit because they were able to take the momentum back from us. They shut us down (offensively) and got the winner."

Congos scored twice and Ben Dennis also had a goal for the Generals, who got 21 saves from goalie Zach Dennis. O'Neill was named Most Valuable Player in the final for Newark, and Hilliard's MVP was Kyle Majher. Mack Burton made 24 saves for the Wildcats.

A change in the format this season spread the tournament over two weekends instead of one, which seemed to negate the advantage Newark would have had after prevailing in the winner's-bracket final. Hilliard came back to beat Northeast 3-0 in the loser's-bracket final on Feb. 19, and that gave them nearly a week to prepare for the rematch with Newark rather than only a few hours.

"That might have helped us, actually," Newark coach Don Jennings said. "My co-coach, Kyle Thomas, came up with a great game plan, and our kids executed it. The extra time probably helped us as much as it did them."

Northeast, the defending club state champion, posted three victories in the tournament and Westerville won two games. Both of those teams will join the Generals and the Wildcats in this year's state tournament, which the GCHSCHL will play host to March 9-11 at the Chiller Dublin and Chiller Easton. The event also features four teams from both the Cleveland-based North Coast High School Hockey League and Cincinnati High School Hockey League.

"We're pleased, obviously," Jennings said. "But our goal is to win state, and I'm fairly certain we'll have to go through Hilliard again to win that."