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Beating the GIANTS

Rangers win hockey championship in inaugural season, defeating Lincoln, four-time defending champs

The four-time defending state champs, Lincoln High School, were much bigger and stronger, but Estacada proved to have more heart and more class in Sunday night's Oregon High School Hockey Association State Championship at Beaverton's Valley Ice Arena.

The Rangers snapped the Cardinals streak with a 3-2 victory that wasn't over until Estacada High School freshman Cody Johnson dove to the ice to successfully block Lincoln's final shot.

'What a way to end the season,' said Estacada coach Rhys Anderson. 'I believed from the beginning that this team had the talent to compete with the best and they proved me right tonight. I couldn't be more proud of every one of the kids. The last six months have been unbelievable. They worked so hard at the games and practices.'

As the Rangers took the ice to face Lincoln in the state finals after a 13-3-3 inaugural season, Estacada's skaters had to pass by the Cardinals, who almost all towered over the shorter Rangers.

'They have some big boys, but we have more skill overall,' said first-year coach, Anderson.

Estacada's Joe Wendt (Gresham H.S.) scored first with 32 seconds left in the first period on a power play. His 25-foot slap shot gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead going into the second period.

The Cardinals quickly responded and scored just one minute into the period to tie the score, 1-1.

With about 7:25 on the clock in the second, Johnson found the back of the net.

The Cardinals' size began wearing on the Rangers, who had taken shot after shot on the glass all night. Neither team could find an advantage in the third period until Estacada's Jackson Kennet (Clackamas H.S.) returned to the ice after three minutes in the penalty box. The picked up the puck behind all of the defenders and took advantage of the situation with the Rangers final goal.

Lincoln picked up the pace. In all, they put 15 shots on Estacada's goalie Brydon Vaylon (Gresham H.S.) in the third period. One of them got past Vaylon with 1:25 on the clock.

With :32 left in the game, tempers flared and a player from each team was ejected for fighting. Estacada's Schuyler Smith skated off the ice. Lincoln's fighter had to be herded to the edge of the ice by one of the referees and didn't leave the rink until he'd given the one-finger salute to the ref.

Lincoln pulled its goalie from the ice to add another attacker to the game. The Cards fired several shots and Johnson landed on the last one. The EHS freshman laid out on his stomach, blocked the shot and slid across the ice with the puck under him as the buzzer sounded.

Anderson gave his goalie credit for winning the game with his saves. Lincoln outshot the Rangers 26-14 for the game.

'Our goalie saved us,' Anderson said.

Vaylon set up the Rangers third and final goal. With about 8:30 on the clock in the third period, Estacada's goalie dove to his left for a huge save. Fifteen seconds later, he blocked another shot and the Rangers kicked it out to Kennet, who was returning from the penalty box.

The Rangers had to beat Skyview and Tigard on their way to Sunday's state finals. Estacada defeated Skyview 1-0, after a valiant effort by Skyview's goalie.

'The guy had, like, 50 saves,' Anderson said.

On Monday, March 12, the Rangers beat Tigard 3-2 in overtime in the semi-finals.

The Rangers took a quick 2-0 lead at the end of the second period. Carter Achilles (Gresham H.S.) slipped the puck past the goalie with a slap shot off an assist from Johnson.

Then, 40 seconds later, Greg Evans (Rex Putnam H.S.) scored on an assist from Rio Flynn (Clackamas H.S.), who had just returned from playing hockey in Canada for three months.

The Tigers scored off a 5-on-3 power play in the third period and again with 2:25 left. Regulation ended in a 2-2 tie.

In overtime, Wendt took a pass from Evans and put the puck in the goal for the win.

Estacada outscored their opponents 69-32 this season.

Coach Anderson said he'll miss his seniors, but looks forward to next season.

'I really look forward to next year, as we are a very young team. I think we have a good opportunity to defend our title next year,' Anderson said. 'I would also like to thank our seniors, Kit Johnson, Paul Petasny and Levi Jardine. What a way for these boys to end their senior year.'