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March 8, 2012

Grosse Pointe South wins overtime thriller in D-2 semifinal, faces Brother Rice for state title

By Mike Moore
C & G Sports Writer

» click to enlarge «
South's Andrew Bigham battles for the puck in the first period of the team's D-2 semifinal. The Blue Devils won 3-2 in overtime and face Brother Rice in the state final March 10.

PLYMOUTH — Had the pass come cleanly, who knows what would have transpired next.

But, as Frank Welsher came flying into the offensive zone, the puck jumped up on him, bouncing off his stomach and leg before hitting the ice.

A split second later, it was in the back of the net.

“It was awesome,” Welsher said of his overtime tally, which propelled Grosse Pointe South to a 3-2 victory against Port Huron Northern in a Division 2 semifinal. The broken play and subsequent goal came with just 50 seconds remaining in the first overtime. “Everyone said I (missed) it at first, but I don’t care. It was awesome. … I think fumbling it a little bit changed everything and really allowed me to score the way I did.”

“We just beat a great team,” South coach James Bufalino said. “This was a great challenge. Hopefully, it’s a steppingstone to what’s next.”

South, which is now 22-5-1 and is riding a 20-game unbeaten streak, faces Birmingham Brother Rice (24-4-1) in the D-2 final, set for 10 a.m. March 10 at Compuware Arena.

“Brother Rice will enter the game with a lot swagger because of the tradition they’ve built,” Bufalino added. “Now it’s our turn to start building some of that same tradition.”

Port Huron Northern (17-11-1) struck first in the game, taking a 1-0 lead on Dillon Pfeifer’s goal at the 9:16 mark of the first period.

South answered just 23 seconds later, though, when Max Corden evened the game at 1-1.

Andrew Bigham gave the Blue Devils a 2-1 advantage with just 1:23 into the second period, but Northern forced the extra session thanks to a Austin Ainsworth power-play goal 1:15 into the third.

The teams traded chances in a fast-paced overtime, but Welsher’s tally sends South back to the finals for the first time since winning the state title in 2007.

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You can reach C & G Sports Writer Mike Moore at mmoore@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1038. Twitter Follow Mike on Twitter.