Riley Watters took a swing at winning Mullen’s game late Saturday as well as maintaining its postseason hopes.
He accomplished both by scoring off a bouncing puck.
The winger’s goal 2 minutes, 10 seconds into the 5-minute overtime lifted the Mustangs to a rousing 5-4 overtime victory over Colorado Academy at Big Bear Ice Arena. It pushed the Mustangs, who are 4-1 in the Class 4A North, to 7-3 overall heading into the final week of the regular season and demonstrated a gritty, late comeback effort that they had to have.
"The fact that we were able to persevere was a character-builder,” Mustangs head coach Devon Brady said.
Watters, out front and to the left of the goal, took a crossing pass from Hayden Klem and golfed it in for the winning score.
“The puck kind of, like, plopped over to me and I swung at it and it went in,” Watters said. “It was awesome!”
Klem, who had a four-point game, said he also saw Larry Simons coming down the slot but was covered, and simply tried to get it to Watters.
“I saw Riley and Larry driving and going to the net, and there was a guy (with Simons), and I knew I had to get it to Riley,” Klem said. “I put it in the air and it took a little bit of a weird bounce, and I don’t know how he got it in, but it was a great shot and that’s all that matters.”
Klem and Simons also hooked up for earlier late dramatics, with Klem, off a faceoff, getting it to Simons for a smooth one-timer that leveled the score at 4 with just 2:05 to go in regulation.
“We didn’t shut down; we kept coming at (Colorado Academy),” Watters said.
Overall, Mullen, which had a 2-0 lead, wasn’t overly sharp, Brady said, as “we had some life, but didn’t have a whole lot most of the game. I think we were going through some motions. I think we thought things would be easy again (Mullen won 8-1 the previous Wednesday).
“It wasn’t our best effort, but we hung in there, continued to grind and got a little puck love at the end.”
Freshman goalie Logan Clothier continued to improve, also handling a point-blank effort in the final seconds of the third period.
Watters also scored the game’s first goal and Klem made it 2-0 early in the second.
However, Colorado Academy scored four of the next five goals – Klem had a sweet shorthander 2:37 into the third – and appeared to be in command despite being outshot 34-9.
“We gave ourselves a chance (at the end),” Brady said.
Mullen needs Crested Butte to handle Battle Mountain – the matchup was switched from the past weekend to this week – and to record road victories in Colorado Springs against Liberty (Monday) and Rampart (Tuesday) for its playoff possibilities to continue.
MULLEN 5, COLORADO ACADEMY 4, OT
Mullen 1 1 2 1 -- 5
Colorado Academy 0 2 2 0 – 4
First Period – 1, Mullen, Riley Watters (Robby Witwer, Eoin Canavan), 9:55,
Second period -- 2, Mullen, Hayden Klem (Robby Witwer), 1:12; 3, Colorado Academy, Will Whalen (Jack Gerber), 6:31.; 4, Colorado Academy, Charlie Whalen (unassisted), 15:16.
Third Period – 5, Mullen, Hayden Klem, sh (unassisted), 2:37; 6. Colorado Academy, Asher Stull (Alex Gonzales), 3:33; 7, Colorado Academy, Asher Stull (Charlie Whalen), 7:30; 8, Mullen, Larry Simons, pp (Hayden Klem), 14:55.
Overtime – 9, Riley Watters (Hayden Klem), 2:10.