Havoc look to game 3 - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Havoc look to game 3

Havoc Captain Sam Cannata bears the scars of the post game brawl (Photo : Richard Perigo) Havoc Captain Sam Cannata bears the scars of the post game brawl (Photo : Richard Perigo)
Jesse Kallechy (Photo: Richard Perigo) Jesse Kallechy (Photo: Richard Perigo)
Coach Detulleo refocuses the team on Sunday's challenge after the emotional win (Photo : Richard Perigo) Coach Detulleo refocuses the team on Sunday's challenge after the emotional win (Photo : Richard Perigo)

4,856 fans were inside the VBC for Friday night's SPHL Finals game between the Huntsville Havoc and Pensacola Ice Flyers. As time goes on, the number of people who "say" they were there will likely be much higher.

April 12th's game is already going down as one of the most exciting, epic and unlikely in the nine year history of the franchise. Quite frankly, the Havoc would rather forget the first 50 minutes. But those last ten were special.

Coming off a 2-1 overtime loss in Pensacola (that wasn't nearly as close as the final score indicates), it was a true "do or die" moment for the home team. Lose, and the Ice Flyers would celebrate inside the Von Braun Center, carrying around the President's Cup in front of thousands of disappointed Havoc fans. Win - and hope stays alive. A third and final game, winner take all, would be played Sunday in the Florida panhandle.

The Ice Flyers were confident going into the game, and with good reason - they'd outshot the Havoc by an unthinkable margin Tuesday. The team placed a call to the front office at the VBC, requesting ice be kept ready to chill their celebratory champagne. Four busloads of die hard fans made the trip up I-65 to see their boys win it all in person. No doubt, SPHL officials waiting in the wings had started applying polish to the President's Cup and practicing their speeches congratulating Pensacola coach Gary Graham.

The Ice Flyers dominated the game early, forcing countless turnovers, and rifling 27 shots at Havoc goalie Jesse Kallechy in the first two periods. The Havoc fought on, with Kallechy making tremendous saves, even getting help from Bill Baker, who stopped a sure thing rebound goal midway through the second as Kallechy found himself out of position.

The visitors took the led late in the second period when a Patrick Knowlton wrist shot sailed over Kallechy's shoulder, and lodged itself in his crossbar. Kallechy let out a sigh as he dislodged the puck with his paddle, watching an entire section of Ice Flyers fans celebrate in front of him.

"We really weren't happy with the first five periods of the series," said Havoc head coach Glenn Detulleo. "We really felt like we didn't play our game. But in that third period you could see we were slowly building momentum, the wave was going in our favor."

Forward Justin Fox agreed. "It's the pressure of playing in front of a big crowd," Fox told WAFF. "We were down, the Cup's on the line, facing elimination, we might have felt it a bit. Detulleo kept up positive and reaffirmed us 'we can do this.'"

The Havoc tightened things up in the third period, and shut down the Pensacola attack. Halfway through the third period, the Havoc finally answered the bell. A shot from Leland Fidler wove through traffic, and was deflected by Aaron McGill into the net. The Von Braun Center exploded into celebration, as Huntsville clearly had momentum on their side.

Time ticked away, and it looked like Huntsville would go to overtime yet again. But, what happened in the final 15 seconds is already becoming Havoc legend.

Justin Fox tells the story from his perspective, "Coach Detulleo switched things up and put me out with Stefan and McGill. We got the puck in deep, it seemed like they were just trying to hang on, the crowd was going crazy, they tried to rim it out, Gilly stopped it on the boards, I just tried to drive the net, he spotted me and I just put it home."

With 8.9 seconds left in the game, the Havoc faithful couldn't believe what they'd just seen. Pensacola goaltender Ross MacKinnon got a piece of Fox's shot - but it wasn't enough. As the puck trickled between his legs and slowly crossed the line, the arena erupted into the loudest cheers it's heard in three years.

"Biggest goal of my career," Fox told WAFF "especially in that moment with the crowd and the situation, it was a good feeling." Check out Fox's post game interview on facebook.

As the final eight seconds ran off the clock, tempers from the Pensacola Ice Flyers spilled over.  Mitchell Good, Ron Cramer and Dan Buccella attacked several Havoc players from behind, causing a massive ruckus behind the Huntsville net. Corey Fulton, Sam Cannata and Mike Gurtler got involved and fought back. "That was probably some frustration on their end, giving up a goal late, they're seeing us celebrate, emotions go high." Detullo said. That kind of stuff just happens. One thing I know without team, we're not going to get pushed around, we're going to fight for each other, so it was great to see that."

Fox didn't mince any words when WAFF asked him what he saw. "A bit of a cheap hit by Cramer. We expected it with the line they threw out." Coach Detulleo was livid when he saw the final score sheet, giving Fulton extra penalties. He was petitioning SPHL officials that Fulton never dropped his gloves, and was essentially penalized for taking a beating. Suspensions from the incident are possible, even likely, but no announcement has been made at the time of this article.

Still, Detulleo knows he has to put that behind him, and focus on Sunday. The Havoc are one win away from the Cup.. but, so is Pensacola.

So what's the plan?

"Score one more goal than them."

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