The ongoing NHL playoffs have created plenty of world class drama, with unlikely overtime game-winners and series upsets eliminating some of the league's most prestigious franchises. Still, the most dramatic hockey game of April didn't take place in the NHL, or even the minor leagues. Rather, it was a matchup of 9 and 10-year-old girls in Canada.
As first reported by the Toronto Sun, and brought to Prep Rally's attention by the NBC blog Off the Bench and our brotherly Yahoo! blog Puck Daddy, a game between Toronto-area Atom A level girls hockey squads finished in a shootout after an astounding 15 periods -- three regulation periods and 12 overtimes -- concluded without a single goal. Eventually, the Stratford Aces knocked off the Chatham Outlaws, 1-0, with the only official goal the result of a four-round shootout victory wrapped up by 10-year-old Emily McFadden.
Because the game was part of the Ontario Provincial round-robin championship tournament it couldn't end in a tie, so a winner had to be determined. And despite both teams nursing extraordinary exhaustion -- the girls reportedly lying down on the team benches to rest between each overtime period -- both teams repeatedly urged their coaches to let them settle the game on the ice in open play rather than a shootout.
"I was feeling kind of scared as the game went on. It was intense," McFadden told the Sun. "I was very tired and the other team was barfing.
"Right before I flipped [McFadden's shootout shot], I saw it. The puck was in slow-mo. In the huddle, our goalie, Skyler Stockie said 'thanks for scoring.'"
It was about time someone scored. When McFadden finally put the winning puck in the net, the two teams had played an astounding 156 minutes without a single goal, a marathon session just 20 minutes shorter than the NHL's all-time longest game, a 176-minute contest between the Red Wings and the then-Montreal Maroons in 1936.
And to think, these were 9 and 10-year-olds. Even more amazingly, Stratford wasn't even done playing hockey there, with the Aces coming back on the ice just two hours after edging out Chatham, and skated to another overtime, 1-0 victory. This time, Statford edged out North Halton with just three minutes remaining in the third overtime period of the game.
Put the overtime matchups together, and Statford played an astonishing 21 periods of hockey in a single day.
"They did an amazing job, that's for sure," Stratford coach Rob Gilchrist told the Toronto Star in an interview. "I started to wonder if it would ever end after the fourth overtime period. There were a lot of scoring chances. Both goalies played really well."