Garden City Gophers win 1st hockey crown in dramatic fashion to prevent 3-peat – Winnipeg

It took a few extra minutes, but it was worth the wait for the Garden City Gophers.

The Gophers won the school’s first ever high school hockey title as they defeated the two-time defending champion St. Paul’s Crusaders 4-3 in overtime in the deciding game 3 of the city championship at a jam packed Seven Oaks Sportsplex.

The Gophers had a one-goal lead in the final frame until the Crusaders scored the equalizer with just six seconds left in regulation to force overtime.

But Lucas Desousa scored his hat trick goal on a breakaway in the 3-on-3 OT period to secure the Winnipeg High School Hockey League’s division one title for Garden City.

Click to play video: 'HIGHLIGHTS: Garden City Gophers win high school hockey championship'

HIGHLIGHTS: Garden City Gophers win high school hockey championship

After losing by five goals in game 1 for their first regulation defeat all season, the Gophers bounced back to win the final two games of the series.

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Garden City forces deciding game in high school hockey city championship

“It feels a little bit surreal,” said Gophers head coach Dustin Hughes. “These boys are unbelievable from top to bottom. Most of them have been together for the last three years during COVID, during shutdowns.

“They were practicing with masks on. They showed up every day with a positive attitude. Tough year last year, but the boys really responded this year with an unbelievable year.”

Click to play video: 'Garden City Gophers Post Game Reaction'

Garden City Gophers Post Game Reaction

Colson Smith scored the only other goal for Garden City, while Dario Macchia, Samuel Monnin, and Noah Brigg replied for the Cru in the loss.

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St. Paul’s Crusaders strike first in high school hockey championship series

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St. Paul’s outshot them 29-27, but Gophers goalie Evan Banera made several key saves in the extra period and finished the game with 26 stops.

Desousa was named the series most valuable player for the Gophers, while Macchia was the Crusaders MVP.

Both teams will still advance to the Provincial AAAA High School Hockey Championship which begins on March 10.

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