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Five overtimes: Valley Wildcats reflect on marathon playoff game

Lequille resident Cole McLaren, a Halifax Mooseheads prospect, has been receiving a lot of attention via social media after making 86 saves in net for the major midget Valley Wildcats during a playoff game March 5.
Lequille resident Cole McLaren, a Halifax Mooseheads prospect, has been receiving a lot of attention via social media after making 86 saves in net for the major midget Valley Wildcats during a playoff game March 5.

BERWICK, N.S. - The story of Valley Wildcats goaltender Cole McLaren’s 86 saves in a playoff game that stretched on for five overtime periods is spanning the globe.

The tale was even shared on Sports Illustrated’s Facebook page.

It all happened at Berwick’s Kings Mutual Century Centre the evening of March 5 – and into the morning March 6. The Wildcats were hosting the Halifax McDonald’s for Game 4 of a Nova Scotia Major Midget Hockey League quarter-final series.

The teams had no idea what they were in for when the puck dropped at 7:30 p.m.

Players battled for 137 minutes – more than double the time it takes to play one regulation hockey game. The clock struck midnight and the scoreboard still read 1-1.

McLaren, 17, remembers feeling his legs burn as he went in and out of crouches and slid back and forth to block shot after shot.

“In the game you don’t really even think about how long the game has been going. You feel the fatigue, obviously, but your mind doesn’t really seem to wander…you’re just waiting for the next shot and trying to keep your team in it,” he said in a phone interview March 8.

The tale was even shared on Sports Illustrated’s Facebook page.

It all happened at Berwick’s Kings Mutual Century Centre the evening of March 5 – and into the morning March 6. The Wildcats were hosting the Halifax McDonald’s for Game 4 of a Nova Scotia Major Midget Hockey League quarter-final series.

The teams had no idea what they were in for when the puck dropped at 7:30 p.m.

Players battled for 137 minutes – more than double the time it takes to play one regulation hockey game. The clock struck midnight and the scoreboard still read 1-1.

McLaren, 17, remembers feeling his legs burn as he went in and out of crouches and slid back and forth to block shot after shot.

“In the game you don’t really even think about how long the game has been going. You feel the fatigue, obviously, but your mind doesn’t really seem to wander…you’re just waiting for the next shot and trying to keep your team in it,” he said in a phone interview March 8.

The major midget Valley Wildcats had a marathon playoff game against a city team that stretched on for five overtime periods. Back row: Robert MacDonald, Riley Spears, Hunter Woodland, Evan Weir, Carson Gallant, Jakob McQuillin, Griffin Abbott, Robbie Dowell, Isaac Chapman, Gregor Yoell and Chris Llewellyn. Front row: Joe MacDonald, head coach Jeff O'Flaherty, Ryan Prosser, Matty MacKay, Josh Foster, Zach Forsythe, Dawson Wood, Austin Woodland, assistant coach Rene George, assistant coach Jeff Conrad and Cole McLaren.

The Grade 11 Annapolis West Education Centre student made 49 saves in overtime alone. It was the Halifax McDonald’s, however, that scored the deciding goal. A blue line slap shot off the stick of defender John Nicholson sailed past traffic in front of McLaren’s net, putting an end to the marathon hockey game in quintuple overtime when it reached its destination.

Halifax goalie Dakota Lund-Cornish stopped 59 of 60 shots, but it was McLaren’s stats that went viral on social media the following day.

“I was very surprised. I never expected the game and my performance in the game to blow up as much as it has on social media. It’s been incredible,” said McLaren, who was thrilled to see Sports Illustrated sharing the story.

“It was really cool seeing that.”

The Lequille resident is a known Halifax Mooseheads prospect, and has recently been called up to practice with the QMJHL squad. He hopes to find his name on the Mooseheads roster next year.

“You’ve just got to keep putting everything that you’ve got into it,” he said.

The McDonald’s would go on to take the playoff series with a 3-2 home win over Valley in a hard fought Game 5 that went into a single frame of overtime March 7.

Wildcats head coach Jeff O’Flaherty was proud to see his major midget players force the McDonald’s into overtime in three consecutive games.

“I told them it’s not always about if you win or lose. It’s about earning the respect of the guys in the dressing room,” he said.

“All of the coaches are really proud with how the guys finished their season… they truly earned their respect.”

O’Flaherty commended the players for giving it their all every single shift of the game that stretched on for five overtime periods.

“It was actually very inspiring as the coach,” he said.

“They didn’t want to let their teammates down… I think that’s what fueled their energy to keep going.”

O’Flaherty said there’s been some talk that the game could have been the longest one played in the history of the league, and they’re working on confirming this.

He praised McLaren for repeatedly keeping his cool under immense pressure.

“He’s such a good guy and such a good teammate that he really didn’t want to let his guard down because he wanted to make all of those saves for his team,” said O’Flaherty.

“He kept refocusing for every shot coming his way.”

Did you know?

In March 2016 the Canadian Press reported that a provincial female Peewee A Championship hockey game between the Tantallon-based TASA Ducks and Pictou County Selects was called at a 1-1 after the seventh overtime period out of concern for the players’ safety. The score was 1-1 after ten 15-minute periods of play. The teams were declared co-champions.

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