Gonzaga senior Mark Tilch primarily plays defense for the Eagles and the Washington Junior Capitals, an elite travel team for which he plays in his free time. But Tilch moved to forward in the third period of the game last night against Good Counsel in the semifinals of the Purple Puck tournament at Fort Dupont Ice Arena.
The move proved fruitful, as Tilch scored two goals in the final period to break open a tie game and spark the Eagles to a 6-3 victory.
"I definitely didn't want the game in overtime," Tilch said. "Anything can happen there. I kind of wanted to get the game over with, and I knew if I picked it up, because I am a leader on the team, and other guys would follow."
Gonzaga (12-5) will play Georgetown Prep, which defeated St. Albans, 4-1, in the other semifinal.
Georgetown Prep (7-1) also got a majority of its offense from its defenders. Senior defender Kyle Keller scored the first goal and had an assist on the second goal, by sophomore Brian Lemmeck.
Senior defender Nikita Kashirsky scored Georgetown Prep's third goal on a brilliant effort. He, too, had an assist. Sophomore forward Brian Danver scored for St. Albans (1-7-1).
"We're a team that no matter what line is out there, we're always an offensive threat because of our defense," Georgetown Prep Coach Brian Maloney said. "If we're able to get the other team to cough up the puck, we're able to get into the offensive zone. Our breakout is unpredictable because our defenders can bring it up."
Good Counsel (4-3-1) kept the game close against Gonzaga due mostly to freshman Sean Mayhew. With two starters out -- senior forwards Joe Rogers and Chris Wagner -- Mayhew scored three goals and the Falcons entered the third period tied at 3 until Tilch scored his two goals and senior Bernie Nolan scored an empty-net goal to end the game.
"Our two best players were out so I knew I had to do some extra work," Mayhew said. "I have some friends on that [Gonzaga] team, so I really wanted to beat them."
Maloney also has ties to Gonzaga. He graduated from the school before it had a hockey program, and would like to beat his alma mater for the tournament title today.
"I'm looking forward to it," he said. "It would be nice to have a win for the tournament."