WINSLOW — Cony junior forward Aaron Manter picked off the puck near the blue line, beat a defenseman coming into the left circle and saw an angle he was looking for .
“I was looking to put it on the right side because it looked like I had an opening,” Manter said.
Manter did, and he ripped the puck past Skowhegan goalie Sam Edmondson with 1 minute, 36 seconds left in overtime to give Cony a thrilling 4-3 victory in the Eastern A regular season finale for both teams.
“It’s an indescribable feeling,” Manter said. “It was awesome.”
It also may have been enough to give the Rams (11-4-3) enough Heal points to grab fourth place in Eastern A. The top four teams will host quarterfinal games next week.
“We’re happy to be in the playoffs but we’ll be really happy if we get a home game,” Cony coach Chad Foye said. “We’ll see how it all plays out.”
Dallas Clark scored two goals and Zach Gagne added another for Cony, which rallied from one-goal deficits three times.
Tyler Leet had two assists and Tommy Small had 21 saves for the Rams as well.
“It puts us in really good position,” Clark, whose goals came on the power play. “We have a chance to play a home playoff game, which would be nice.”
Trey Michonski scored two goals and Anthony-James Paul added another for Skowhegan (12-5-1), which would’ve clinched fourth in Eastern A with a victory.
Instead, the Indians — who lost two consecutive overtime games to close the regular season — could drop to as low as seventh or sixth and be forced to play a quarterfinal game on the road.
“Obviously, it’s a very difficult loss,” Skowhegan coach Jeff Fowler said. “We really wanted to win this one on senior night. Two overtime losses, they hurt a great deal. The fact that we had the lead three times, that hurt, too. We’re a very good team, but to get to that next level is very challenging.”
Cony forced overtime when Gagne scored a power-play goal with 6:53 left in regulation. The Rams then dominated the overtime period before Manter sent them south a winner.
“We had to step up our game and we did,” he said.
The teams were tied 2-2 after an entertaining first period, but Michonski scored his second goal of the game late in the second period to give the Indians their third one-goal lead of the game.
Michonski took a loose puck and poked it into an open net to the short side with 3:55 left in the second.
But the Indians couldn’t protect the lead.
“We had a 3-2 lead going into the third period,” Fowler said. “That was tough.”
Added Foye, whose team played without key players Spencer Buck, Austin Davis and Chris Murphy: “We kept battling back. We didn’t quit.”
Michonski opened the scoring when he buried a shot from the left of Small just 1:18 into the game, but Cony answered nearly two minutes later with the first of two power play goals from Clark.
Clark, positioned in front of Edmondson, took a pass from Leet and tried to jam the puck home.
Edmondson stopped the shot with his left pad, but Clark grabbed the rebound and roofed it in to tie the game.
“The puck was free and I just got it in,” Clark said.
Skowhegan again surged ahead when Paul scored on a nice individual effort 4:04 into the period. Paul gained control of the puck through the high slot, got Small to commit low then tucked a backhand past the Cony goalie.
The Indians seemed poised to take the lead into the second period but Clark scored with 1:09 left in the first to again pull the Rams even.
Bill Stewart – 621-5640