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Sandburg has been struggling lately and the Eagles fortunes didn’t appear as if they would get much brighter. They were facing elimination in the Metro West Scholastic Cup semi-final playoffs against Naperville Central and the Eagles were down to their last shot.
The Eagles converted three straight goals in the shootout to win in overtime 4-3 Sunday night and force a deciding game three at Seven Bridges on Monday at 8:40 P.M.
"(Connor) Tietz told me to go to a happy place before my shot," Ethan Pelesky said. "I imagined being on the beach and I just relaxed and shot it where I always do."
Pelesky’s goal was the No. 10 Eagles (44-12-2) last hope after Naperville took a 3-1 lead during the shootout. If his shot failed, the Eagles would have been eliminated.
Mark McNicholas followed that goal with a nice back-handed move and Mike Mischeck won the game by deeking goalie Austin Smith to the right before moving back left for the easy goal.
"It was all instinct on that shot,’’ McNicholas said. "The goalie came out too far and I have faith in that move. The shootout was nerve-wracking because we were facing elimination."
The Eagles were in control of the game from a puck possession standpoint but still found itself trailing 1-0 on a first period goal by Troy Nelson who re-directed Michael Pope’s shot from the blue line.
Smith was frustrating Sandburg by making 23 saves before the Eagles finally broke through. Adam Howey hammered a rebound of Luke Botica’s shot that Smith made a pad save on before Alex Howey slid the rebound of his twin brother’s shot in for the tying power-play goal with 1:41 left to play in the second period. Regulation time ran out with the game tied 1-1.
"We’ve been in a slump lately," Sandburg coach Mike McCurrie said. "We have a lot of expectations and pressure on us. We are a good puck handling team and other teams have figured that out. We need to get rebounds and play more nitty-gritty to win."
Joey Schick and Nelson scored in the overtime for Naperville.
The Eagles outshot Naperville 30-16 for the game.