Sophomore forward Joe Sardina's overtime goal in a decisive 20-minute minigame gave Lake Forest a Northern Collegiate Hockey Association Harris Cup Playoff quarterfinal series victory over visiting Aurora University late Saturday night.
Aurora had forced the minigame by defeating the Foresters 5-1 Saturday night in game two of the series. The Foresters struck first in the contest on the ninth goal of the season by freshman forward josh Giacomin. He was assisted by a pair of defensemen, senior Ryan Kruss and junior Connor Duncan, at the 16:18 mark of an opening period that included 11 penalties.
Lake Forest led 1-0 after one period of play but surrendered that advantage 3:25 into the second. The Spartans pulled ahead on a power play goal at 11:53 in the second period and added two more power play scores and a short-handed goal in the third.
The visitors had a 31-23 advantage in shots in the game.
After an 18-minute intermission, the teams began a 20-minute mini-game to decide which would advance to play in next Saturday's Harris Cup semifinals at Adrian College. Aurora took the lead at the 10:46 mark but the Foresters responded at 15:59 with a score from Kruss. He was assisted by senior forward Bron Loiselle and sophomore forward Aaron O'Neill.
A single 20-minute period was not enough to determine a winner and the team went into the locker room tied on the scoreboard and with Aurora holding a slight 9-8 edge in shots during the minigame.
The teams began sudden-death play with 20 minutes on the scoreboard and Lake Forest scored 5:33 later. Junior forward Austin Aksoy played the puck to senior forward Cody Guidorzi behind the Aurora goal. Guidorzi found Sardina between the circles and, after moving to his left, the team's co-leader in points backhanded the puck past the Spartan goalie and in before being mobbed by his teammates just outside the Forester bench.
While the victory advances Lake Forest in the league's postseason tournament, it does not count as an official game and the loss earlier in the night dropped the Foresters' overall record on the season to 12-9-6. Aurora improved to 12-14-1.
Lake Forest will travel to Adrian College for a single-game semifinal next Saturday. A game time has not yet been announced.