Spoilers survive opening round with double-overtime win
Former New York Yankee and Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson is known nationwide as Mr. October for all his playoff and World Series heroics during baseball’s postseason. As far as North Dakota Hockey is concerned, Grafton Park River’s Johnny Robideaux has to be Mr. February. Robideuax did it again Thursday night in the opening round of the North Dakota High School Hockey tournament as he scored the game tying goal with 18 seconds remaining in regulation to resurrect what looked to be a certain Spoiler loss.
Over the past two seasons, Robideaux has scored four game-winning or game-tying goals in the waning minutes of state playoff games. His goal Thursday night was huge in sending the Spoilers to the State Semi’s once again.
Robideaux’s goal came with the Spoilers trailing 3-2 late in the period and skating six on five. To say the Spoilers were reeling after giving up a 2-1 lead going into the third period would be an understatement. It appeared to everyone in the Ralph Thursday that Bismarck High had this one in the bag and was going to pull off a big win over the favored Spoilers. Robideaux wouldn’t have any of it.
“Well, I’m a captain and need to lead by example,” Robideaux said of his work ethic on the ice. “That last goal was just a result of all of us working hard and not giving up.”
The Spoilers seemed to lack that pop they have had over the last couple weeks of the season and it showed early as Bismarck jumped out to a 1-0 lead after the first period. Spoiler goalie Zach Nelson was solid in the first period, stopping an early breakaway with a sliding pad save on Demon forward Nick Goulet.
Bismarck scored at 13:57 of the first while skating four on four with Brandon Gieszler making good on a backhander high to the top shelf.
The Spoilers tied the game at 1-1 three minutes into the second period when Cole Rehovsky picked up a loose puck in front of Demon goalie Brett Malkmus and got off a quick shot that beat him top shelf.
Levi Cudmore put the Spoilers on top near the end of the period. Jade Miller set up Cudmore perfectly. Miller skated in hard down the left side, leaned in hard on the defenseman as he went to the net and then shuffled the puck with a one hand pass to Cudmore waiting on the doorstep. The freshman slammed it home for a 2-1 Spoiler lead at the 13:31 mark.
Things went south for the Spoilers in the third. After a Spoiler goal was waved off early due to the Demon net being knocked off its posts, the Demons came back and tied it with 11:28 to play. They got the lead with 7:30 to go on a giveaway deep in the Spoilers own end. Spoiler coach Scott Petersen was impressed with Bismarck.
“Bismarck played a very smart game and did a good job of getting pucks deep on us,” he said. “We didn’t protect the puck very well in our own end but we found a way to win and are moving on.”
Pulling the goalie with a little over a minute to play, the Spoilers finally got a good chance and Robideaux made good as he took a face-off pass from Miller, spun around with a quick shot low to the ice. The shot beat Malkmus clean and with 18 seconds to go, the Spoilers had new life.
With Nelson making two big saves in the first overtime, this one was headed for a fifth stanza. In the second overtime it was Cudmore who netted the game winner when he picked up a rebound in the front slot and fired it low through Malkmus’ pads to end this one nearly two and a half hours after it had begun.