By: George Pohly, Macomb Daily
Austin Walny's penchant for drama helped Anchor Bay post its first MAC Red hockey victory of the season.
The senior forward set up Ryan Saad's winning goal in the final minute of overtime after he scored off a faceoff with 1.4 seconds left in the third period to force the OT, and the Tars skated away with a 4-3, penalty-filled victory over Romeo at Suburban Ice Macomb on Saturday.
Walny, a right-handed shooter, scored off his forehand from the faceoff to lift the Tars into a 3-3 tie and stun the Bulldogs, who took a 3-2 lead on freshman defenseman Brendan Vernarsky's goal with 9:49 to play.
"I just shot it, and it went through (the goalie's legs)," Walny said of the tying goal, his second goal of the game. "I've never scored a goal like that. I don't think I will again, not like that, not with 1.4 seconds to go."
Later, Walny got the puck to Saad, who scored with 39.3 seconds left in overtime as Anchor Bay was on a power play.
"I kind of soccer-kicked it to him," Walny said. "I didn't know if it was legal, but I guess it was. I don't think we played our best, but we got the (victory)."
Vernarsky's goal was Romeo's second of the third period and followed one by senior Joseph Milana that tied the game 2-2. Milana assisted on Vernarsky's goal.
Junior Gavin Walters' unassisted goal put Anchor Bay ahead 3:17 into the third period.
Garrett Ganfield scored on a power play with 52.7 seconds left in the second period to pull Romeo into a 1-1 tie. It was the Bulldogs' first goal of the weekend, which included a 9-0 loss to Dakota on Friday night.
Walny's even-strength goal in the first period opened the scoring.
Keith Knight, the Romeo coach, said his post-game message to the Bulldogs was simple: keep working hard.
"I told them right now we're not getting the bounces," Knight said. "The only way you'll get the bounces is to keep working hard.
"You don't give up. You don't quit."
Knight thought the Bulldogs carried the play in the third period and overtime.
"The puck was bouncing, and I thought we had opportunities," he said. "We didn't get the goal that we needed, though, and then they got a good bounce."
Knight lauded the Bulldogs for playing well after the Dakota game.
"The biggest thing was, the effort was there and the confidence was there."
Anchor Bay improved to 1-2-0 in the MAC Red.
"I think we dominated the majority of the game, but we had mental lapses that we're trying to work through," Tars coach Dave Koons said. "We came together when it mattered.
"We're very fortunate to come out with the W. It's a learning process. We're still growing together as a team. It was ugly, but it was a team win."
The teams were called for 11 penalties apiece, including one each in overtime. In the third period, two Anchor Bay players and one from Romeo were disqualified for fighting.
"I thought it was ugly," Koons said when asked to describe the game.
Lorenzo Evangelista assisted on Ganfield's goal. Kyle Giza assisted on Milana's goal.