Chad Ceremuga scored the game-winning goal in overtime and Mooney-Ursuline will play Boardman for the crown.
By GREG GULAS
BOARDMAN -- Chad Ceremuga's goal at 1:37 of overtime lifted the Mooney-Ursuline high school club hockey team to a 6-5 victory over North Canton Hoover Friday in the Northeast Ohio High School League playoffs at The Ice Zone.
"This team has more heart than any team I have ever been associated with," Mooney-Ursuline coach Todd Smith said.
"It was gut-check time for us after the second period," Smith said. "I looked at our team and told everyone we had 15 minutes left in our season if we didn't play like we were capable of playing.
"Every single player nodded that they didn't want our season to end tonight."
If Mooney-Ursuline played in the second period like they did in both the first and third periods, the game would not have been as close and overtime would not have been necessary.
"The second period has been our downfall all season long," Smith said. "With that in mind, Chad Ceremuga really stepped up his game and carried us in both the third period and overtime frame.
"He had just a handful of points all season and I told him we really needed a big game from him tonight," Smith said. "To his credit, he really answered the call tonight."
Moving on: Mooney-Ursuline (10-4-1), the tourney's number-three seed, advances to the title game Sunday at 6:30 p.m. against Boardman, which defeated Poland, 6-3.
Hoover (21-7) defeated Mooney-Ursuline twice during the regular season by 7-6 scores.
Mooney-Ursuline took an early 2-0 lead on goals by freshman Jake Secich and Joey Toth.
When Brandon Palsa scored a powerplay goal with 31 seconds remaining in the opening period (the first of his three goals), the Vikings cut the Mooney-Ursuline lead in half.
Palsa added two more goals in the second period. Brian Busch and Glenn Ireland scored as well, capping a 5-0 run by the Vikings for a 5-2 lead deep into the second period.
But when Eric Smith scored for Mooney-Ursuline at 1:17, the Vikings' lead was trimmed to 5-3 heading into the final 15 period of action.
"We had trouble all night long playing in the defensive zone," Vikings coach Blake Little said. "I was proud of our play tonight but disappointed at the end result."
Pulling even: Ceremuga's first goal at 5:50 of the third period pulled Mooney-Ursuline to within one at 5-4.
Two minutes and 47 seconds later, Luke Johnston, who was hobbled by a bad knee all night, knotted the game at five apiece to force the overtime session.
Nip and tuck throughout the overtime period, Ceremuga scored the game-winning goal with 1:30 remaining.
Mooney-Ursuline took 45 shots on goal to 34 for the Vikings. Goalie Anthony Sabatka registered 40 saves.
In addition to Ceremuga's two goals, Toth had a goal and two assists for Mooney-Ursuline while Palsa added an assist to go along with his hat trick for North Canton Hoover.
Ireland had three assists and a goal for the Vikings while Busch added two assists and a goal in a losing cause.
Boardman 6, Poland 3: BOARDMAN -- Pat Rafeedie and Bill Maloney each scored two goals for Boardman in the other semifinal.
Jeff Murdock and Tyler Miller also had goals for the Spartans (13-12-2, 8-2). Brett Pitzulo had two goals and Robby Wyand scored one goal for Poland (10-7-1, 2-7-1).