Just before Broad Run senior Chris Lorusso skated out for warm-ups at Ashburn Ice House on Friday evening, his father and coach, Steve Lorusso, gave him a hearty handshake and a pat on the shoulder.
"Welcome back," coach told son with a smile.
Chris Lorusso had missed the Spartans' first two games after a suspension for fighting last season and was making his first appearance this season.
He couldn't have returned at a better time.
With 1.9 seconds left against Potomac Falls, Lorusso slapped in a feed from sophomore Jeremiah Cunningham for a 6-6 tie that felt a whole lot like a victory to the Spartans. Potomac Falls (2-0-1) took the lead four times but could not secure its first win over Broad Run (2-0-1).
"In a tie game, one team always feels like the winner, and one team always feels like the loser," Coach Lorusso said. "We'll take the one point as a win."
The Spartans improved to 66-2-3 all-time on the ice but could not have done it without Cunningham, who scored three goals and had two assists in netting a hat trick for the third time in as many games. Even though he kept Broad Run in the game, a shot that Cunningham did not take keyed the Spartans' final goal.
With 21.5 seconds to play, Broad Run won a faceoff in its own end. Coach Lorusso had called for a fast-break play, but it broke down in front of the Potomac Falls goal.
Then Cunningham took a pass from senior Matt Kennedy, who had scored once, behind the goal on the right side. Instead of forcing a shot, the sophomore slipped a back-door pass to Chris Lorusso (one goal, three assists), who had slid in front of the cage.
"I just saw a white jersey back door, and I threw it across," Cunningham said, "just because everybody else in the building probably thought I was going to shoot."
Potomac Falls, which outscored its first two opponents, 19-3, took leads of 1-0, 4-2, 5-4 and 6-5, and the last advantage came with 4:42 to play. Just 12 seconds after Broad Run junior Ryan Blair tied the game at 5-5 off an assist from Cunningham on a power play, Potomac Falls senior Ken Logan (two goals, one assist) knocked in a rebound for what would have been the game-winner until the final seconds.
Broad Run's comeback was even harder to swallow for the Panthers, who thought they should have had another goal. With 2:35 left in the second period, officials ruled that a shot by Potomac Falls junior Andrew Skinner (one goal) did not go into the net.
If it had been allowed, the Panthers would have led, 5-2. Instead, Broad Run scored twice in less than a minute to tie the game, 4-4.
"When you put on the Broad Run jersey, there's kind of a little magic in there, I guess," Cunningham said. "The bounces kind of bounce your way."