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Hockey: Providence tops Benet 6-5 in Game 1 of Kennedy Cup final

Jordan Ernst (19) Providence celebrates after scoring against Benet for 1st game  Kennedy Cup Championship Arctic ArenThursday March 6th

Jordan Ernst (19) of Providence celebrates after scoring against Benet for 1st game of the Kennedy Cup Championship at Arctic Arena, Thursday, March 6th, 2014 in Orland Park | Gary Middendorf/for Sun-Times Media

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Updated: April 8, 2014 6:37AM



Providence’s Ben Brandau never expected to have to perform third-period magic Thursday night in Game 1 of their best-of-3 Kennedy Cup final against Benet.

The Celtics took a 5-2 lead into the third period, and with a bounce here or there, could have easily led by a greater margin.

The Redwings, however, mounted a stunning comeback and tied the game at 5 with 8:15 remaining in the third period.

Providence needed someone to step up.

Enter Brandau, who has had a knack for rising to the occasion all season long.

The senior forward ripped a shot from the right slot past Redwings goalie Kevin O’Hara for the game-winner in a 6-5 Celtics victory at Arctic Ice Arena in Orland Park.

Game 2 is set for 4:50 p.m. Saturday at Seven Bridges Ice Arena in Woodridge.

“It was rough,” Brandau said of the third period. “We have to make sure we keep pushing, no matter the score.”

John Latimer, Thomas Feldman and Evan Langer scored in an 8:45 span in the third period for Benet to tie the game at 5.

Langer nearly gave the Redwings the lead, but his shot clanged off the post, maintaining the 5-all deadlock.

With the Celtics on the power play, Brandau came through with 6:05 left.

“I picked up the puck where Mike (Vennetti Jr.) usually is down low and got a shot on net,” Brandau said. “Matt (Iaciancio) had a great screen. You can’t stop what you can’t see.”

First-period goals by Brandau and Matt Iaciancio gave Providence a 2-0 lead. Iaciancio’s goal was set up by a marvelous coast-to-coast rush up ice by Jordan Ernst.

Benet cut the deficit in half just 51 seconds into the second period. Josh Tumpane rushed down the right wing and snapped a shot over goalie Ryan Iaciancio’s shoulder to make it 2-1.

The Celtics countered with two goals in a span of 1:14. Vennetti went top shelf with a wrist shot for a 3-1 and Ernst fired a low shot from the point that beat O’Hara for a 4-1 advantage.

After Benet, the defending Kennedy Cup champ, trimmed its deficit to 4-2 on a goal by Thomas Feldman off a nice helper from Michael Prasse, Vennetti converted a pretty pass by Dan Ricker for a 5-2 spread heading into the third period.

Game over? Hardly.

“I just told them to take some ownership of this game,” Benet coach Jon Grzbek said of his talk to his team between the second and third periods. “It wasn’t a pep talk. It wasn’t some Knute Rockne speech. I’ve got some guys that this is their third Kennedy Cup finals and some other guys that this is their second.”

Nick Iaciancio hopes his players have learned a valuable lesson entering Game 2.

“They’ve (Benet) been to the finals the last three years and realize it’s never over,” Ianciancio said. “We backed off a little bit and took some dumb penalties. This should be a lesson for us moving forward.”



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