Monday’s seven-overtime regional game at Howe Arena certainly will be the stuff of legend in local hockey lore, but it may have earned even loftier status.
The grueling thriller won 2-1 by Traverse City West over the Bay Reps co-op team also may be the fifth-longest game in United States high school hockey history.
It took 103 minutes and 33 seconds before a winner was declared in a contest that ended at 11:13 p.m. after an initial 7 p.m. puck drop.
The contest is the second-longest in Michigan history, behind only the 2008 Marquette-Orchard Lake St. Mary’s Division 1 state championship game that officials ended after eight overtimes when they declared both squads state champs.
That game was 109 minutes long, thanks to 15-minute periods in regulation, compared to today’s 17-minute versions. Monday’s game was just shy of that, but had something the Marquette-Orchard lake game didn’t: One winner.
“It was an extremely memorable game,” Titans junior forward Ryan Fernandez said. “I won’t have a game like that for the rest of my life. It was a great game to play in, but once it hit five overtimes I was chuckling in my head because this hardly ever happens in the sport.”
After four overtimes, the teams played 4-on-4 instead of 5-on-5. It still went almost three full overtimes, even with the more wide-open game.
“At a couple points, I was like, ‘Man, when is this ever going to end?’” TC West coach Jeremy Rintala said. “In fact, the refs actually talked to us and said if this goes to midnight, we have to stop.”
The longest game in high school history was in a 1998 league tournament quarterfinal in Darien, Conn., between rivals Wilton and Ridgefield that went to a 10th eight-minute OT after 45 minutes of regulation for 125 minutes of hockey before Wilton won.
A 1955 Minnesota game between Minneapolis South and Thief River Falls endured 11 overtimes, but the Minnesota State High School League lists the longest game in elapsed time as Champlin Park vs. Coon Rapids in 2000 at 115 minutes and 59 seconds in seven overtimes, with a 1998 contest between Eden Prairie and Edina second at just under 100 minutes.
In 2007, Aurora defeated Solon in the eighth overtime of the Ohio state playoffs. The winning goal came in the 105th minute.
“The game was unbelievable,” said Reps sophomore forward Garrett Diola, who scored his team’s only goal. “Both teams played their hearts out. Both goalies played unbelievable. It was really a heart-breaker for our entire team, especially our seniors. All of our underclassmen look up to them and are proud they went out in the history books.”
Michigan increased the length of periods from 15 to 17 minutes in 2011, resulting in a 51-minute regulation instead of 45. The Titans and Reps tacked another 52:33 Monday in the extra sessions.
“It was about the fifth overtime, one of the referees was standing next to the Reps bench,” Reps senior forward Andrew Dzierwa said. “He looked at us and said, ‘Enjoy the moment boys, this is one hell of a game.’ It gave us chills when he said it. I’ll never forget that moment.”