Nick Murley might be a bit of a pack rat, but at least it paid off for the senior on the Olentangy Orange High School hockey team.

Nick Murley might be a bit of a pack rat, but at least it paid off for the senior on the Olentangy Orange High School hockey team.

Murley had one of his skates break late in the second period of a district semifinal against Olentangy Liberty on Feb. 26 at the OhioHealth Ice Haus.

During intermission, he darted for the lobby to have workers at the facility replace the blade with one that he had in his equipment bag.

The move paid off as Murley scored his team's second goal minutes into the third period, helping the Pioneers to a 2-0 victory and their first berth in a district final.

"(The blade) has been in my bag since last summer," said Murley, a senior forward whose goal came with 12 minutes, 18 seconds left in the game. "I have no idea why it's still in there, but I needed it (against Liberty)."

The fourth-seeded Pioneers (33-8) advanced to play top-seeded Dublin Jerome (30-9-1) in a district final at 5 p.m. Saturday, March 3, at the Ice Haus. The winner advances to a state semifinal at 3 p.m. March 10 at Nationwide Arena against second-ranked Sylvania Northview or sixth-ranked Toledo St. John's.

"Jerome is Jerome and they are the top-seeded team in the district," coach Tim Pennington said. "We know it will be a tall order."

Orange and Jerome have played three times this season, with the Celtics leading the series 2-1. The Pioneers won the first meeting 5-2 in the Midwest Thanksgiving Classic on Nov. 26 before losing 5-3 on Dec. 11 in the championship game of the Adam Allgeyer Tournament and 4-1 on Dec. 17 in Capital Hockey Conference play.

"We'll watch some film and figure out what we can do to play to our strengths," Pennington said. "The thing about this group of guys is that we don't have one guy for teams to focus on to stop us. Our forwards play well together and can make defensive stops, our defenders can shoot the puck and we have a couple of good goalies. This is really a cohesive group on and off of the ice."

Clayton Horvath was in goal for the first two games against the Celtics. The junior also had 22 saves in the district semifinal against Liberty.

"You have to stay focused and not give up too many odd-man rushes against them," Horvath said of Jerome. "We have to play like we did against Liberty. We have to play a good all-around game and not have a lot of turnovers."

Liberty coach Jack Hoogeveen said Orange played its best against his team.

"I have a saying, 'Shoot hard. Skate hard. Hit hard.' Orange did all of that," said Hoogeveen, whose team finished 28-9-3. "We waited too long to apply pressure and (the Pioneers) came ready to play. They had a good strategy and they kept us from getting more shots on goal."

The Pioneers took the lead on senior forward Taylor Hardy's goal with 4:43 left in the first period.

"I really don't know what happened (on the first goal)," said Hardy, who also assisted on Murley's goal. "It was crazy in there (near the goal) and I just kept trying to get the puck in the net and it made it."

Senior forward Jake Shepherd said it was "definitely the biggest win in the history of the program, but that's just for now. We have never made it past the second round of the tournament and we want to keep going. We want to take this as far as we can."

Orange advanced to the semifinal with a 5-2 win over fifth-seeded Cincinnati Moeller in a third-round game Feb. 25 at the Ice Haus. Horvath had 27 saves and Murley, senior forward Dar Faroughi, senior defender Jacob Green, junior forward Christopher Pennington and sophomore forward Dino Capoccia all scored.

Eddie Arcy had 20 saves for Liberty against Orange. The Patriots ended Olentangy's season, beating the Braves 5-2 in a third-round district game Feb. 25 at the Ice Haus. Olentangy finished 12-21.