TRAVERSE CITY — What started as a wake-up call Friday turned into a fully-aware Traverse City Central hockey team.
And that wasn't good for Sault Ste. Marie.
The Trojans trailed 6-2 late in the second period and stormed back for an improbable 7-6 overtime victory when Alex Oliver scored on the rebound of a Mitchell Ward shot 1:16 into overtime.
"Wow. You talk about the playoffs being heart-attack hockey," Central coach Chris Givens said. "Heart-attack hockey started a few days early. That was absolutely crazy."
By the time Nico Saco's sprawling goal tied the game up 6-6, much of the TC Central student section was headed across town to see the Trojans and TC West tangle on the basketball court. They missed a hockey classic.
"It was a huge rush," Oliver said. "It felt really great to do it for the seniors on Senior Night in their last regular-season hockey game ever."
Saco reached back for a loose puck in the crease and was able to just get his stick on it and tap it in with 1:13 remaining. Cam Givens and Cooper Macdonell assisted.
Central's massive comeback started in the second period's final minute. Cooper Marshall pounded in the puck from a scrum in front of the net to pull Central with three goals a 6-3 with 45.5 ticks left.
"We came out flat, obviously," Oliver said. "But we put some good shifts together (in the second). Austin Mackey just had a great shift where he went out and had about five hits in one shift. That got me going."
Oliver then scored his first of two goals on the night in the third period's first minute, capitalizing on Soo goalie Nick McKenzie being out of the crease to cut off a Jon Russell break-away. McKenzie charged out and was able to poke check the puck away from Russell, but Oliver dug the puck out from a defender along the boards and was able to quickly shoot into the open net to trim the lead to 6-4.