Predators Late Goal Seals Cherry Blossom Championship
Laurel, MD: The Protec Predators midget team loaded up the gear and headed for Maryland this past weekend to compete in Big Bear’s Cherry Blossom Showdown. After slow starts in the round robin games, the Predators were able to get back on their game and finished 2-0-1. The highlight of pool play was when the Predators found themselves down to the Reston Raiders (Va.) 2-1 until late in the game when Ryan Rutkowski went coast to coast to slip the puck by the goalie to earn a 2-2 tie.
Entering the semi-finals, the Predators played a familiar foe in the Clippers (Md.), with another slow start, the Predators found themselves in a 0-1 hole quickly. Goals from Kyle Daly and Zachary Alvin helped the predators end the first period with a 2-1 lead. Goals were added from Alvin and Sonny Lawson to complete the 4-1 semi-final victory.
In the finals, the Predators had a rematch against the Reston Raiders (Va.). The Predators stormed out of the gates with an early 1-0 lead from the stick of Darin Larsen 15 seconds into the first period. The Raiders tied the game at 1-1 just before the period ended, but early in the second, Sonny Lawson put the Predators ahead 2-1. Once again, the Raiders wouldn’t go away and tied the game up four minutes later at 2-2. Things didn’t look good for the Predators in the third period. With passes not connecting and tired legs, the play was in their own zone for a good portion of the period, but goalie Preston Baker stepped up with some key saves to keep the game tied. With 1:29 left in the game, Michael Agathis dropped the puck in the neutral zone to Alvin who rushed the puck coast to coast, beat the defenseman wide and broke behind the net to find Lawson for his second of the game which was the game winner for a 3-2 championship victory.