Try to write a better script than that.
Eighteen-year-old Bo Horvat — the heart and soul of the London Knights — banged home the Ontario Hockey League title-winning goal Monday with less than a second remaining in the last game of the season.
The Knights, previously trailing the Barrie Colts 3-1 in the 2013 championship series, won Game 7, 3-2. It was perhaps the most dramatic ending to an OHL final ever.
“I knew it was in right away,” said Horvat, who scored the opening goal, too. “It looked a little iffy, but I had a good feeling it was in.”
The on-ice officials originally waved off the heart-stopping marker, with the game clock reading “0.1” seconds. After a video review, though, the Knights — along with 9,046-strong at Budweiser Gardens — erupted into a fit of celebration.
And now, for the first time in franchise history, the J. Ross Robertson Cup lives in the Forest City two years in a row.
“When the ref pointed that it was a goal, it was unbelievable,” netminder Jake Patterson, who made 30 saves in the victory, said.
“I was kind of just praying,” captain Scott Harrington added. “The longer it took, the more likely it would be a goal. And there it was.”
The Knights were on the brink of elimination three times in the best-of-seven final. They bent but didn’t break, managing to somehow, someway pull out a remarkable comeback.
They gave up large leads — the biggest being a four-goal cushion in Game 6 — yet managed to get the job done in the deciding match.
Monday, head coach Dale Hunter wouldn’t let his team crumble. Not this time.
“He just said we kind of had to pick it up a bit,” Harrington said of what Hunter lectured the team about in an early third period timeout. “We weren’t sitting back but they were coming hard, so we wanted to make sure we were coming just as hard.”
With a 2-1 lead and 20 minutes to play, London advancing to the 2013 Memorial Cup in Saskatoon looked like an inevitability.
It took a diving goalline stop by Horvat at 13:02 — Patterson was pinned near the post by a teammate — to survive an early third period flurry from Barrie, before Mitchell Theoret tied it, 2-2, with three minutes left.
Colts forward and Londoner Josh MacDonald also smoked the Knights crossbar at the two-minute mark.
Then came the unlikely finale.
“I wasn’t aware how much time was left,” said Alex Broadhurst, the London forward who kept the puck in Barrie’s end with five seconds remaining, “and I just pinched on the boards, saw (Seth Griffith) going to the net, tried to pass it to him, and it went off their guy’s stick and Bo buried.”
Patterson, 18, only played games five through seven, replacing struggling Knights goalie Anthony Stolarz. The Sault Ste. Marie native wasn’t great, but held down the fort.
Although he was dominant in the rest of the final, Barrie’s superstar forward Mark Scheifele missed Game 7, sidelined by an undisclosed injury. The Winnipeg Jets top prospect didn’t even travel with the team to London.
To boot, Scheifele’s linemate Anthony Camara, a Boston Bruins product, was serving a suspension and young defenceman Michael Webster injured.
Following the Knights Game 4 loss in Barrie, which put them down 3-1, Harrington said the “series isn’t even close to being finished.” Doesn’t he look smart now?
“We knew that we had it in us, that we were confident in our abilities,” he said, moments after hoisting the cup over his head. “We weren’t overconfident by any means. We battled our hardest every game. They’re a heck of a team; that’s why they came back so often.”
It turns out London’s post-season slogan — It’s Our Time — was spot-on, too.
“I can’t wait to go to Saskatoon,” Horvat said, beaming with a champion’s glow.
Playoff MVP Bo Horvat’s body of work
o 21 games
o 16 total goals
o 3 game-winning goals (all in OHL final)
o 3 short-handed goals (two in one shift)
o 23 total points
“It’s a real honour to be MVP. There’s a lot of great names on that list. For me to be on it, it’s unbelievable.” — Horvat, on claiming the Wayne Gretzky Trophy