Tom “Boomer” Russell was the hero, netting the game-winner with just 48 seconds remaining on the clock in the third overtime period, Wednesday, sparking the Lockport ice Lions to a 2-1 playoff victory over St. Joe’s at Hyde Park.

Lions head coach Bill “Judge” Watson called the win, “one of the most exciting games in Lockport hockey history.” The victory sends the blue and gold into Saturday’s 7:30 p.m. semifinal contest against regular season-champion Niagara-Wheatfield, back at Hyde Park.

Goalie Pat Krebs was the deserving Most valuable Player for Lockport, Watson said.

“He was just outstanding in the nets — unbeatable on an incredible 47 of 48 Marauders’ chances,” Watson said.

“This had to be one of the best goaltending performances that I have ever seen, at any level of hockey.”

Lockport opened the scoring midway through the first period when Don Metzinger knocked home a rebound off a blistering Seth Hamilton wrist shot form the high slot. St. Joe’s evened things up in the second period finding a way to beat a screened Krebs after a scramble in front.

The goaltending dual heated up at that point and the two teams skated scoreless through the final stanza and the first two sudden death periods. The overtime of 3-on-3 opened up the ice and both teams had numerous breakaways, odd man rushes, and in close scoring chances. However, Krebs was there at every turn.

With just 48 seconds left on the clock, and both teams dead tired, Eric Vanbenschoten skated into the St. Joe’s end and dropped a pass to Russell, who let fly a blistering wrist shot just inside the far post for the game winner.

Lockport is looking for revenge against the Falcons after being ousted by N-W in the semifinals of the Cheektowaga Christmas Tournament.

“It always seems that when we’re playing our best, we come up against the best. I am very exciting for the opportunity to take on Niagara-Wheatfield once again, especially when we’re on top of our game.”

The victory qualifies Lockport for a return trip to the sectionals Feb. 15-17 and a chance to qualify once again for the 2008 state championships.

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