By Mike Williamson – firstname.lastname@example.org
It had been a long time coming for the Dexter hockey team.
The Dreadnaughts clinched a share of the SEC White title with a 5-4 overtime win over Jackson United Saturday night and before the Dreads set their blades on the ice again, the title could be theirs outright.
The title was the first hockey league championship for the Dreadnaughts since 2007 and it also snapped the 11 consecutive SEC White conference titles for rival Chelsea.
First-year head coach Justin Young is a big reason for the Dreadnaughts success. He brought 20 years of experience to the Dexter bench and the team has a different attitude.
It took the Dreadnaughts a while to get used to things under Young as they started the season 1-4.
“A big thing for our team has been (Assistant Coach) Donnie Busdeker. He was the head coach last year and he decided to stay on the staff and it has helped with the transition,” Young said
The Dreadnaughts finished 16-10 under Busdeker in 2017/18. Their first winning season since the 2013/14 season.
After the 1-4 start, Dexter has been clicking by going 11-2, including winning nine of its last ten games.
During that stretch, the Dreadnaughts were shorthanded when five players on the team were suspended for a couple of games.
“We are not a one or two line team anymore as some of our player got more playing time with the suspensions,” Young said “We can go 3 or 4 lines deep now.”
Going into the Jackson game Saturday, the Dreadnaughts needed a win to clinch a tie for the SEC White title and things did not start off well for them as Jackson scored just 1:14 into the game.
Junior forward Brendan Busdeker took over from that point for the Dreadnaughts.
Busdeker scored a power-play goal when he flipped a shot off the back of the Jackson goaltender the deflected into the net to tie it at 1-1.
A couple of minutes later he tipped the puck in his own zone out to center ice where he raced in on net and beat the goaltender for a breakaway goal to make it 2-1.
He then got his hat trick a short time later when he flipped home a shot to make it 3-1. He nearly had a fourth goal, but the Vikings goalie made a sprawling save to knock it wide.
“Brendan made the game easy,” Young said. “He played under control and brought the game to him and it gave him some great chances when we needed them.”
Jackson would add another goal late in the period when a shot over the net hit the glass and bounced back in front of the Dexter goal and was tipped in.
The second period started like the first when the Vikings scored just over a
Jackson would take the lead with a power-play goal with 2:48 left in the second and would hold the lead until the third.
Kyle Knapp ripped a shot from the blue-line that found the net to tie the game at 4-4 3:28 into the third period.
Things would get a little hectic after that.
Dexter could not take advantage of a 5 on 3 advantage and 11 seconds into another power-play they were called for tripping, negating the extra man.
Even though the game was tied, the Dreadnaughts seemed to lose their composure. They were called for interference with 6:10 left in the third.
Dexter would play shorthanded for the next 5:25 of the third due to multiple penalties. This included a pair of 5 on 3 advantages for the Vikings.
“We lost our composure in the third,” Young said. “We were playing in a hostile environment and we went back to some of our old ways.”
Jackson’s student section stands in the corner of the ice near the visiting goaltender and it appeared to rattle Dexter’s goaltender Kris Eberly in the third as he was called for two penalties.
Young called a timeout during the stretch to try to settle the team down and get them focused again.
“Our penalty kill played well tonight,” Young said. “They stepped up when we needed them.”
Dexter killed all the penalties and with 45 seconds left the Dreads made a big push and had several chances in the final few seconds.
The Dreadnaughts got a break in spite of all the pressure, Jackson poked the puck out and it was picked up for a breakaway, but the time expired in the period just as the Jackson player broke in on net.
Dexter controled the play from the start of overtime.
A shot on goal was stopped by the Jackson goaltender forcing a face-off to the left of the net.
Ryan Lotz won the draw back to Trevor Eisele who flipped a shot on net, the Viking goaltender made the save, but did not control the puck and it bounced back to Eisele who dropped to a knee and flipped the rebound into the top of the net for the game-winner 20 seconds in to overtime.
The Dexter bench emptied as they mobbed Eisele in front of the net in celebration.
Lotz, Kyle Burke, Eisele, and Dylan Fox recorded assists for Dexter.
In spite of getting frustrated in the third, Eberly came up big in net when needed for the Dreads. He made 16 saves.
The win gave the Dreadnaughts a 7-4 record for 14 points in
One loss by Pinckney and Dexter will stand alone at the top of the SEC White standings.
Pictures by Mike Williamson