One of the techniques the Dublin Jerome High School hockey team uses to create offense has been described by coach Pat Murphy as working “the puck low” and making plays behind the net.
However, the game-winning goal in the Celtics’ 3-2 overtime victory over Hunting Valley University School in a state semifinal March 8 at Nationwide Arena was much more straightforward.
Nolan Kunzelman passed the puck to Ethan French near the center line and French passed to Nick Augenstein near the blue line. Augenstein then bolted past defenseman Beau O’Sickley to set up a one-on-one situation with defenseman Colin Counahan and shot the puck between goaltender Critter Couglin’s legs with 5 minutes, 13 seconds left in overtime to lift the Celtics to victory.
“I was just trying to get my stick open for a nice shot on net, just went right by (Counahan) and poked it in,” Augenstein said.
Jerome improved to 35-2-0-1 and made history by becoming the first central Ohio team to reach the state final. Area teams had been 0-12 in state semifinals.
The Celtics will face Cleveland St. Ignatius (26-9-0-1) in the state championship game at 11 a.m. March 9 at Nationwide Arena. The three-time defending state champion Wildcats defeated Sylvania Northview 7-0 in the other semifinal March 8 and have outscored their five postseason opponents by a combined 40-2.
Murphy called the winning goal a “phenomenal one-on-one play” by Augenstein.
“That was nice, Augie,” Murphy said to his senior left winger. “We won’t forget that one.”
Jerome took a 1-0 lead with 3:01 left in the first period when Joel Kunzelman scored off a crossing pass from Trent Belli, who left the game early in the second period with a right shoulder injury and but returned early in the third period.
Then with 7:18 left in the second period, Nolan Kunzelman took a pass from Matt Kish, pushed the puck toward the goal and Evan Shea slid the puck past two defenders and into the goal for a 2-0 lead.
University School tied the game with a pair of second-period goals. John Pape scored off a pass from Will Lvovich with 3:47 left in the period and 39 seconds left later, Henry Saada scored off assists by Tyler Alt and Jack Henry Muha.
The Preppers, who had lost to the Celtics 8-2 on Jan. 20, finished 19-16-2.
“I thought we played really well,” Murphy said. “We had a couple mistakes in the second period and they jumped all over us, but I thought we got back to it. (Augenstein) had a big goal. It was a great game. We’ll celebrate for a little while and get ready for tomorrow.”