Despite the Cougars’ late rally, the Sharks had the upper hand on the ice and got a 3-2 win in Wesley Chapel last week.
In a much-anticipated rematch of February’s Lightning High School Hockey League championship game, Durant and Seminole gave the crowd at AdventHealth Center Ice one heck of a show last Wednesday.
The Cougars and Sharks went head-to-head for the rights to claim yet another championship trophy — this time, it was the SAHOF Tier II state championship. Unfortunately for Durant, Seminole came out on top once again and snagged a 3-2 win in one period of overtime.
Seminole got on the board first with Cooper Kappeler’s goal in the first period, but Durant’s Jordan Putnam tied the game at 1-1 4:53 into the second period on a goal assisted by Ethan Carstens and Colin Smargon. Sebastian Middleton put the Sharks back in control with a goal less than two minutes later, but Durant’s Robby Noble answered with an unassisted goal at 5:47 in the third period to tie the game at 2-2.
In overtime, Seminole’s Maxim Thellab scored the golden goal with an assist from Middleton to give the Sharks the Tier II championship.
This game was about as even as it gets: each team put 25 shots on goal, finished with six penalty minutes on three infractions and went three-for-three on the penalty kill.
Durant had an outstanding tournament run, winning four out of five games in regulation and outscoring opponents 61-9. The team’s 61 goals for was the highest in the field and only Seminole allowed fewer goals (five). Putnam was the most productive player in the entire Tier II field with a final total of 27 points (10 goals, 17 assists) and Carstens was right behind him with 19 points (11 goals, eight assists), good for second among all Tier II skaters. Two more Cougars rounded out the top 10 in tournament point totals: Josh McKeen (14 points; 10 goals, four assists) and Dante Denney (13 points; four goals, nine assists).
The Cougars’ 2020-21 season comes to a close with the team posting a program-best 25-5-1 record and 188 goals scored between LHSHL and SAHOF play. The team also achieved all of the goals it set for itself to start the season: winning the Modin Division in LHSHL play, making the Lightning Cup championship game and making the SAHOF Tier II championship game.
On Monday, head coach Todd Comunale announced the club would retire Putnam’s jersey number 86. Putnam, the team’s captain, was named LHSHL Rookie of the Year in the 2017-18 season and continued to live up to the hype. He finished his four-year career with 92 goals and 58 assists (150 points) in 72 games of regular-season play and a total of 16 goals and 29 assists (45 points) in 16 postseason games played.