The only even-strength goal of the third and deciding game of the OUA men's hockey playoff series between the Guelph Gryphons and the Windsor Lancers sent the host Gryphs into the West Conference semifinals.
"I don't think I've ever scored a bigger goal in my life," Gryphon forward Rob Lepine said after netting the game-winner almost 11 minutes into overtime Sunday night at the Gryphon Centre. "It's hard to describe, it's unbelievable."
Lepine's goal at 10:55 of overtime lifted the Gryphs to a 3-2 win in the game and a 2-1 victory in the best-of-three series.
"I came in over the blue line and Cody Thompson was wide on the boards," Lepine said. "He looked at me and it looked like he looked me off, but then he threw a beautiful soft pass to me wide open in the slot. I fired it and it went over the glove. I couldn't believe it."
"That was a great win - a great overtime, a great series," Gryphon coach Shawn Camp said. "It was incredibly physical and both teams battled for every inch of ice. They've won this league before and they weren't going to go down without a fight. We just got a good chance in overtime and Robbie Lepine made no mistake about it."
The game was a hard-hitting affair and fairly even throughout. And penalties proved costly as every regulation-time goal was a power-play marker.
Windsor led 2-1 at the end of the first period before Guelph scored the only goal of the second and the third was scoreless. That forced the extra time and the teams went back-and-forth.
"It was exactly what you hope to see in overtime from a fan's perspective," Camp said. "It was so fast and so entertaining. There were chances both ways and pucks around the net at both ends. (Andrew) D'Agostini played so well for us in our net. We felt that with his goaltending, we would get some chances in OT and we'd find a way."
"The whole series was an absolute war and it was only fitting for it to go to overtime in the deciding game," Lepine said. "Overtime was no different. It was a battle, we didn't quit and we came out on top."
Lepine and Scott Simmonds scored in regulation time for the Gryphs while Thompson had two assists and Nick Trecapelli, Dylan Gilbert and Seth Swenson had one apiece.
Justice Dundas and Tyson Ness scored for Windsor about four minutes apart in the first period.
The Gryphs advance to play the Ryerson Rams in the conference semifinals and they will have home-ice advantage. The series is expected to start Thursday.
"We'll enjoy this one tonight and get back at it tomorrow to start to prepare for Ryerson," Camp said.