The compelling story of the 2014 Northview hockey team with its spectacular and unparalleled finish is sure to be recounted for many years to come.
The underdog Wildcats battled No. 1-ranked Cleveland St. Ignatius for seven overtimes in a classic championship game at Nationwide Arena in Columbus.
The epic tilt featured 101 minutes of white-knuckled hockey before being declared a 1-1 tie and both teams champions. The split state title was agreed to by both schools’ coaches and administrators.
Northview senior goalie David Marsh was magnificent throughout, making a state-tournament record 77 saves. The upstart netminder was the main reason the game lasted more than four and a half hours. It was the longest contest in state final history and fell just seven minutes shy of tying for the longest in Ohio history.
“The kids were spent,” Ohio High School Athletic Association commissioner Dan Ross said. “There were kids that were really, really struggling getting off the ice for both teams. Our job is to make sure the kids are going to be OK.”
NORTHVIEW HOCKEY: View or purchase photos from the Wildcats' state championship run
Marsh made 36 saves in regulation and 41 more in the seven overtimes.
“I wasn’t really tired,” Marsh said. “When in you are in this type of moment, the adrenaline is just pumping. I was doing everything I could do to win a state title. I found my center.”
St. Ignatius (31-4-6) finished with a 78-32 edge in shots.
“It was absolutely amazing,” Northview coach Mike Jones said. “[Both teams] fought and clawed and scratched. I’m proud to be a part of it.”
Northview tallied its goal when senior Jake Koback scored 6 minutes, 42 seconds into the game on assists by captain Cody Estrel and his junior brother, Josh Koback. But St. Ignatius tied it with 7:45 left in regulation.
Jones said when he informed the team of the decision, sticks and helmets went flying in the locker room.
“They were mad,” he said. “Those kids were crying.”
Estrel, who was the team’s leading scorer in every offensive category, called it bittersweet.
“This has never been done before, but right now we’re not happy,” he said in the game’s aftermath. “But if this is what we get, it’s something to be proud of. At the end of the day we are state champions.”
The declaration of a draw drew national attention with highlights on ESPN.
The lack of a contingency plan for such a lengthy contest was addressed in the aftermath. A format will be established to ensure a champion is decided in the future. Teams likely will go to a four-on-four situation after the third overtime, then three-on-three after that.
“All 40 players and the coaches would have loved a different outcome,” Jones said. “But it could not be done. Not at the expense of the health and safety of the players.”
Making the story even more remarkable was that the Northview team had struggled early in the season. The Wildcats (18-13-1) hovered around .500 but upset No. 2 St. John’s Jesuit 4-2 to win the district. Northview then upended No. 6-ranked Columbus St. Charles 3-1 in the state semifinals.
Northview reached the state championship game for the third straight season and won it all for the second time in three years.
Maumee won the NHC White Division regular-season title with a 11-2-0 record, but Clay won the White Division playoff title. The Eagles defeated Maumee 5-4 in overtime in the final with Chandler Cannon scoring the game-winning goal in overtime