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Flames Headed To Regional Championship

Story By: Brian Skowronski



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  Original Published: 10/30/2013

Mansfield Christian hadn't allowed a goal all postseason heading into Wednesday night's Division III regional semi- final against Elyria Catholic. But the red hot Panthers, coming in as winners of 6- straight, would need less than two minutes to get on the board when senior defenseman Carl Spaetzel put one in the back of the net at the 38:34 mark.

Elyria Catholic would generate a number of scoring opportunities over the next several minutes, but were unable to capitalize with a goal. The Flames would then take control for the final 25 minutes of the opening half, and would eventually tie the game on a David Cochran goal with 8:54 to play, sending the game into the half tied 1-1.

In the second half Mansfield Christian would continue to dominate the ball control, keeping the action predominately on the Panthers side of the field. Then with 5:21 remaining in the game, Sam Paul hit a rocket from 30 yards out, perfectly placed over the keepers head for what would prove to be the game winning goal.

Paul said after the game that sending his team to the regional championship game was an "unbelievable" feeling, but gave all the credit to his teammates. Flames head coach Jesse Rider, who turned 30 on Wednesday, said it was great birthday present to watch his team battle.

"It was fun to watch them be resilient." Rider said. "We got scored on first and it was a long 15 minutes to start the game, but after we settled down we just had to be patient and take our shots."

Rider said he talked to his team before the game about how to react if they were to fall behind early and said his team eventually "responded in a great way." Rider says he believes his team certainly has the ability and talent to continue their postseason run, but would need to perform better than they did in the opening minutes against the Panthers.

Mansfield Christian will compete for a Division III regional title Saturday at noon in Findlay against Kalida, who defeated Ottowa Hills on a penalty kick in double-overtime in their semi- final.

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