NEVILLE TWP., Pa. — Nathan Boulanger’s overtime hat trick sent the Ringgold Rams to the PIHL Class-B championship game for the second consecutive year. He scored the game-winning goal 55 seconds into overtime to defeat Elizabeth Forward 6-5 Monday at RMU Island Sports Center.
The sophomore’s breakaway goal was the end of a natural hat trick, as he three straight goals in the comeback for the Rams.
Boulanger’s second goal tied things up for Ringgold in the third, and from there the Rams and Warriors shut each other down offensively as goaltenders Buddy Mease and Billy Siemon put on a clinic after they each gave up their fifth.
It wasn’t an easy contest for Ringgold, as Elizabeth Forward came to life in the second period when the Rams temporarily came unglued, scoring four power-play goal in succession after Evan Eberlein was disqualified from the contest for a high stick at the 6:13 mark. The Warriors went 4 for 5 on the ensuing major with Matt Karpuszka’s second, a goal by Tayte Donovan and a pair of goals by Jake Provident giving Elizabeth Forward a two-goal lead late in the second.
Ringgold exploded to open up the contest as Eberlein scored at 6:01 of the first frame, moments after the first penalty of the game for Elizabeth-Forward expired. Back-to-back goals by Justin Day gave the Rams a 3-0 lead, but a shot on net by Karpuszka barely missed starter Mease’s pad and gave the Warriors the first of their five consecutive goals.
Mease ended the contest with 16 saves on 21 shots, while Siemon stopped 37-of-43 in the loss for Elizabeth-Forward.
THEY SAID IT
The Rams head to Lemieux Sports Complex in Cranberry to face the winner of Neshannock-Carrick with a chance to repeat as D2/Class-B champions. Puck drop is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 17.