As a rule of thumb, taking penalties when trailing in the third period will get any hockey team beat about 97% of the time.
The Erie Otters probably would have have preferred a neat-and-tidy win over the Guelph Storm in a first-place battle on Saturday night, but instead they were thaumaturgic on the penalty kill, scoring three third-period short-handed goals to force overtime. That set the stage for 16-year-old sensation Connor McDavid to score the decider for a do-you-believe-in-unlikelihoods 4-3 win.
The Storm, who would have taken over first overall in the OHL with a win in regulation, were up 3-0 just fewer than four minutes into the third. André Burakovsky stole the puck and sprung Michael Curtis for a breakaway, leading to a deke and goal with 16:18 to play.
Erie wing Stephen Harper was sent off with 6:05 left. That Guelph man advantage, nominally speaking, ended with Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Connor Brown forcing a turnover at the blueline. A return feed from Dane Fox sent him off to the races to score and pare the margin to 3-2 with 5:36 left. Harper took another penalty with 2:32 left, but Erie managed to sustain pressure before overage Spencer Abraham sniped with 52 seconds to play.
One probably had to be there to know what they did to the collective psyche of the Storm. It took all of 30 seconds in the overtime for McDavid to accelerate through the neutral zone and pick a corner for his dramatic skate-off salvo.
"That was the craziest game I've ever been a part of," McDavid told the Erie Times-News. "It was wild."
The Otters, under coach Kris Knoblauch, boast both the most efficient penalty kill and power play in the OHL; they have scored a league-high seven short-handed goals. Three in one period against strong opposition is something else, for want of a better word.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org.