Hollywood could not have produced a better ending for the Fermi/Enfield/East Granby/Stafford hockey team than it saw on Senior Night Monday.
Needing at least a win and a tie in their final two games to ensure a state tournament berth, the Falcons found themselves less than a minute away from elimination, trailing Tri-Town 2-1.
Coach Frank Genovese pulled goaltender Aaron Lickwar in favor of a sixth attacker with 58 seconds remaining. The strategy paid off, but not in the manner he nor anyone else envisioned.
Senior co-captain Logan Beck, a solid defenseman who had not scored a goal in his four seasons with the Falcons, knocked a shot past Tri-Town netminder Cam Pinkham to knot the score at 2-2 with 51 seconds to play in regulation.
Fans and players alike were joyous at the reprieve, anticipating an overtime period where the Falcons could continue their quest for postseason action.
Overtime was not needed, however, as Beck ripped home his second straight goal with 11 seconds left, capping the stunning 3-2 victory that sent Falcon players and supporters into a frenzy.
"We really needed this game, so it felt great helping my team out," Beck said. "On the second one, the puck just popped out in front of the net, I pinched in a little bit and I got it through everybody."
"I was thinking, if we get that one good look, we're gonna get it," Genovese said. "We've had a couple of situations this year where teams have come back on us late in games, and now we reversed the table a little bit."
After a scoreless first period, Brian Riley put the Falcons in front just 22 seconds into the second session. The Falcons held their 1-0 lead while killing off a 5-on-3 Tri-Town power play near the midpoint of the period.
Rudy O'Konis pulled Tri-Town even shortly before the second intermission, then Kevin White gave Tri-Town a 2-1 lead by scoring at the 4:09 mark of the third period.
Tri-Town caught a break when the Falcons' Matt Boulette clanged a shot off the crossbar with 3:49 left to play. The breaks ended, however, when Beck began his improbable offensive surge.
The late heroics spoiled a tremendous game-long effort by Tri-Town, which has struggled all season and was looking to play the role of spoiler to its rinkmates.
"Tri-Town played an unbelievable game; their whole team came to play," Genovese said. "This game could have went either way, for sure."
Fermi/Enfield/East Granby/Stafford (7-11-1) needs a win or tie Wednesday at Conard to qualify for the Division II tournament. Tri-Town (1-18) closes its season Wednesday at Simsbury.