Members of the Peachtree Ridge ice hockey state championship team celebrate after their victory.
DULUTH -- In front of a rowdy standing-room only crowd, Kyle Jassmann and the Peachtree Ridge hockey team weren't going to be denied.
Jassmann's third goal of the night was the game-winner in the Lions' tooth-and-nail 5-4 victory over Northview in the state AA hockey league championship final Sunday night at the IceForum in Duluth.
When Peachtree Ridge needed it most, its leading scorer was right there.
All of Jassmann's goals gave the Lions a lead in the game, the last one was for good.
Six minutes after Northview tied it for a second time in the third period, Jassmann burst through the neutral zone, danced to the slot and, leaning back on one heel, fired the puck into the back of the net.
"I just wanted to go out there and make sure my team got the win," Jassmann said. "Every time I saw them score, it just motivated me to go out there and get one more."
The Lions held on for the next 4:58, including two fantastic back-to-back saves by goaltender Erik Gordon just moments later, to beat Northview with their second chance.
"It feels great," Jassmann said. "It was our goal, so I almost expected it, but to get it done, feels awesome.
"A lot of times, you'll see the underdogs come out on top and I wanted to make sure that didn't happen with us this year."
The two teams met Thursday and Northview won 4-3. But in the double-elimination tournament, the Titans needed to beat Peachtree Ridge twice. They weren't able to. The Lions finished with just one loss this season, running through the regular season unbeaten before falling to Northview a few nights earlier.
It did though, give at least one dad the chance to see his son win a championship. Scott Gordon, an assistant coach for the Toronto Maple Leafs, wasn't able to make Thursday's game. But he was able to fly in to see Sunday's rematch.
"I didn't expect it," Scott Gordon said after giving his son Erik a big hug. "But obviously to see your kid play a sport and have success, and see the team win a championship, you don't get too many opportunities. It's a great feeling -- for all of them. They deserved it. They played well tonight."
Northview's most effective weapon, Alexander Sauer, was ejected following a hit with 3:54 left in regulation. Sauer had two goals and assisted on another.
The Titans still had several premium chances to tie the game, but Gordon, just an eighth-grader, made all the saves. As the final second ticked off the clock, gear was thrown in the air and the team mobbed Gordon behind the net.
"This doesn't come around that often," head coach Eugene Jarusinski said. "I told the team it was elimination game for (Northview) last time and it wasn't for us. I think that was the difference. They had that do-or-die, they had that little bit extra grit. They had that extra step that they won pucks in the corners and we didn't.
"Our guys, today, I really didn't have to tell them anything. They were just ready to go."
Northview scored first, 10 minutes into the game. But Peachtree Ridge roared back, grabbing a 3-1 lead on goals by top linemates Joseph Tufts, Jassmann and Jackson Tralongo. The third of those was a beautiful tic-tac-toe passing play between the three of them just 38 seconds into the second period.
Sauer's two goals tied it 3-3, the first an unassisted rush with 1:22 left in the second and the next at 1:35 of the third.
From there it was a back-and-forth battle. After a point-blank save by Gordon, Jassmann went coast-to-coast and put the Lions back in front 4-3 with 12:15 to play.
Northview's Reid Ferguson snapped home a top-shelf shot a little over a minute later to tie it again.
Which set the table for Jassmann to cap his hat trick with the biggest goal of the game.
"Last game, in the back of our minds, knew even if we lost, we still could go on," Jassmann said. "Today, our fans kept us in it and this was our goal from Day 1. We just wanted to get it done."