By Nick Henthorn, The Intelligencer
WHEELING, W.Va. – After a two-day, three-game odyssey across Saturday and Sunday, the Wheeling Central Maroon Knights are the champions of the 19th annual West Virginia State Bob Otten Hockey Tournament.
The Knights bested the West Virginia East Vipers 5-4 in the championship match inside WesBanco Arena, battening down the hatches after trailing in the first period, and hanging on for a win in the final seconds.
Wheeling Central was playing catchup throughout the first period. They trailed 1-0, then tied the game 1-1 after a goal from Gary Hatfield assisted by Zach Vitlip with 6:19 in the first period. They trailed 2-1, then tied the game 2-2 on an unassisted goal by Aden Cooey with 4:30 to go in the first. The Vipers struck again with seconds to go before the end of the first period, Wyatt Arnoult putting West Virginia ahead 3-2.
The Maroon Knights would not allow another goal until there were less than two minutes left in the game.
Wheeling Central tied the game 3-3 with 11:47 showing in the second period, Landon Prager scoring on a Vitlip assist. Then they took their first lead of the game less than two minutes later, 4-3 after Vitlip scored himself off a feed from Logan Pielech. Pielech dished another assist to Cooey to increase Wheeling Central’s lead to two while the Vipers were held in check.