Club Hockey

Storm works overtime for first Blue Jackets Cup title

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No matter how many shots the Northeast club hockey team fired at Newark goaltender Charlie Smart in overtime of the Blue Jackets Cup championship game Feb. 23, they seemed to hit the same spot -- his chest.

The scenario repeated in the second overtime, but the Storm made sure that wouldn't be the case in the third overtime.

Off the opening faceoff, Taylor Farthing fed a pass to Robbie Davies, who sprinted down the middle of the ice and beat Smart six seconds into the period, giving Northeast a 2-1 victory at Chiller North.

The goal clinched the Storm's first Blue Jackets Cup championship.

"I didn't realize it would happen that quick," said Davies, a senior at New Albany High School. "As soon as I had the chance, I took a shot and made a quick release just to get it on the net. But I wouldn't have had the puck if it weren't for Farthing making a great pass into the center of the ice."

Jared Fee, who was named tournament MVP, scored in the first period for Northeast, which improved to 26-6-6. Taylor Blome tied the game for Newark with 3:25 remaining in the third period.

Northeast had the majority of scoring chances in the first two overtimes and eventually found a way to get a second puck past Smart, who finished with 35 saves.

"I was trying to get the line changed, so I didn't even see it go in," Storm coach Andrew Kieta said. "Robbie had had about three open nets (in the game) that he couldn't finish on. It was a perfect shot because (Smart) wasn't going to miss anything else."

Storm goalie Ryan Wickiser had 21 saves.

The double-elimination Blue Jackets Cup serves as a league tournament for the six-team Greater Columbus High School Club Hockey League. Northeast placed second in the GCHSCHL in the regular season, going 11-3-6 (28 points) to finish behind Westerville (31, 12-1-7) and ahead of Newark (23, 9-6-5), Hilliard (22, 7-5-8), PHA (16, 6-10-4) and Athens (0, 0-20).

Second-seeded Northeast defeated third-seeded Newark 5-4 in a second-round game Feb. 21, then advanced to the final by knocking off the top seed, Westerville, 4-0 in a semifinal Feb. 22.

Newark was seeking its third consecutive Blue Jackets Cup championship and fourth in six seasons.

"We've worked with these guys on a system we've developed over several years, and they know how successful we can be when they execute the way it's supposed to be done," Generals coach Don Jennings said. "I know it's been an unpredictable season at times, but I like to think it was predictable that we were able to find our way back to the championship game."

On Feb. 20 in the opening round, Hilliard defeated fifth-seeded PHA 5-3 and Newark beat six-seeded Athens 6-3. The next day, Westerville defeated fourth-seeded Hilliard 6-3 in the other semifinal.

On Feb. 22, Newark eliminated PHA with a 4-3 victory and Hilliard knocked out Athens with an 8-1 win. The Generals eliminated Hilliard with a 4-2 win in a consolation semifinal later that day and advanced to the championship game by defeating Westerville 4-2 in the consolation final Feb. 23.

As the league's top four teams, Westerville, Northeast, Newark and Hilliard have qualified for the Buckeye Cup, the club state tournament that will take place March 7-9 at the Gilmour Academy Ice Complex in Gates Mills.

The Buckeye Cup is in its 10th season. Hilliard was state runner-up last year, losing to Medina 3-1 in the championship game. Northeast was state champion in 2011, and Newark won state titles in 2012 and 2009 and was runner-up in 2011.

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