The Wheeling Central Maroon Knights emerged victorious in the 19th annual West Virginia State Bob Otten Hockey Tournament, defeating the West Virginia East Vipers 5-4 in a thrilling championship match at WesBanco Arena. The Knights had to battle back from a deficit in the first period, ultimately securing the win in the final seconds.
The game was a back-and-forth affair, with Wheeling Central playing catchup after trailing 1-0 early on. They managed to tie the game at 1-1 and 2-2 before the Vipers took a 3-2 lead just before the end of the first period. However, the Maroon Knights’ resilient performance saw them pull ahead in the second period, taking a 4-3 lead and eventually extending it to 5-3.
The defensive prowess of Wheeling Central was on full display, with goaltender Ashton Glover making an impressive 36 saves to keep the Vipers at bay. Head coach PJ Ratcliffe praised Glover’s performance, noting that he had been instrumental in keeping the team in contention throughout the season.
Despite being outshot 22-40, Wheeling Central’s defensive playmaking proved to be the key to their success in the tournament. They were able to secure victories against tough opponents, including a win over Wheeling Park, who had made it to the state title game the previous year.
As the clock wound down in the championship match, the Vipers managed to score a late goal, setting the stage for a tense final minute of play. Wheeling Central called a timeout to regroup and ensure they could hold on to their lead. The team’s defensive efforts paid off, as they managed to withstand a frantic push from the Vipers to secure the victory.
Zach Vitlip was named the tournament MVP, further highlighting the contributions of the Wheeling Central team to their championship win. The victory was a source of pride for the school and the hockey program, showcasing the team’s resilience and determination in the face of tough competition.
Overall, the 19th annual West Virginia State Bob Otten Hockey Tournament was a testament to the skill and tenacity of the Wheeling Central Maroon Knights, as they emerged as deserving champions.