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Jeremy Ambrose scored both goals including the game winner in overtime as Cherokee defeated Eastern 2-1 to win the SJHSHL Tier I Championship before another standing room only crowd at the Skate Zone in Voorhees. Just like they did on Friday night the Chiefs jumped out to an early 1-0 lead as Ambrose deflected a shot by Hunter Ray just 16 seconds into the game. Unlike Friday night however Eastern came right back forty four seconds later as Max Kouznetsov would get the equalizer and we were all tied at 1-1. Little did we know that no more goals would be scored in regulation.

Cherokee for the most part controlled the game offensively as they outshot the Vikings 27-12, but Eastern goalie Isaac Bleicher picked the championship game to play his best game. As Kouznetsov would say after the game, “ this was the best game we played all season”. Max was right, and for someone that plays a lot in the offensive end, Max was getting back and helping on defense and back-checking. Tonight though belonged to Ambrose and his line mates of Sam Libetti and Jake Bianchi as they created numerous scoring chances only to be stoned by Bleicher.

The Chiefs had a golden opportunity entering the second period with a two-man advantage for fifty-one seconds, but failed to capitalize. With five minutes left in the period Ambrose had a breakaway but was dragged down from behind and awarded a penalty shot and a chance to give the Chiefs the lead, but Bleicher made the save and kept it even at 1-1. In the third period Cherokee would carry the play as the Vikings could only muster two shots, the last half of the period was played in the neutral zone with neither team wanting to make a mistake. Both teams had chances early in the overtime but missed the net, until Ambrose came through from the right circle and was swarmed by his teammates.

Notes: As assistant coach Matt Pinto said after the game it was fitting to have Ambrose score the game winner and it was unfortunate that someone had to lose after both teams played their hearts out. Coach McKay said, "This was tough at my age these don’t get any easier, but to have Jeremy score the game winner was awesome". Congratulations to Coach McKay and assistants Angelo Di Battista and Matt Pinto on winning another title. Now on to the Flyers Cup!!

Written by Mike Costantino

Posted in: Cherokee, Eastern
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