Woodridge, 03/08/14--Benet's goalie Kevin O'Hara stops the point-blank shot of Providence's Pat Francis. Providence played Benet in Game 2 of the Kennedy Cup finals in boys hockey Saturday afternoon at Seven Bridges Ice Arena. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 10, 2014 6:58AM
Five years ago, the hockey program at Providence was in shambles.
“We were on the verge of going away,” Celtics coach Nick Iaciancio said.
The Celtics’ Mike Vennetti punctuated a long climb to prominence for his program with an overtime goal Saturday, giving Providence its first Catholic Hockey League Kennedy Cup in a 4-3 win over Benet and a sweep of the best-of-3 final.
“I just tried getting the puck on net,” Vennetti said. “I think one of their kids blocked it, it came back to me and I just threw it back on net. It looked like there was an opening, top-right, and luckily, it went in.”
Providence players quickly shed their gloves, sticks, and helmets across the ice before racing to the south end of the Seven Bridges Ice Arena to celebrate with Vennetti.
“It’s the greatest feeling in the world,” Vennetti said. “Any way to win it is great, but that way is special.”
Providence (25-0-1 in Catholic League play) pressured Benet in the first period but Redwings goalie Kevin O’Hara stonewalled the Celtics. Benet led 1-0 after one period on an Evan Langer goal.
Providence tied the game on a second-period goal by Andy Guth, but Benet answered with a goal by Robert Ernsting.
The Celtics tied the game at 2 on Jordan Ernst’s goal, but Benet quickly regained the lead on a goal from Thomas Feldman.
Vennetti started his run to the hero role in the third period, tying the game at 3 with a goal early in the period. He delivered the game-winner just 23 seconds into the extra session.
“Luckily, it didn’t take long,” Iaciancio said. “Most overtime periods, it’s over right away or it goes two or three overtimes. We told them any shot is a good shot in overtime, and it happened to work.”
Providence defeated Benet (17-8-1) 6-5 in Game 1 on Thursday.
“It was a great game ... Providence has our number so far this year,” Benet coach Jon Grzbek said. “Now we’ve got 24 hours to put it behind us, because we’ll see them again on Monday.”
Benet and Providence will square off in a state playoff quarterfinal.
“We’ve played them eight times and have yet to beat them, so our kids will have to dig deeper than they’ve ever dug to take it over the top,” Grzbek said.