AFFTON — The moment was not too big for De Smet’s Mitch Geiser.
The freshman, who came in with just three goals this season, scored twice Monday as the Spartans earned a 4-4 tie with St. Louis U. High to advance to the Challenge Cup quarterfinal round at Affton Ice Rink.
De Smet entered the contest with the tiebreaker in the preliminary round and needed a win or a tie to advance. The two-time defending state champion Jr. Billikens, who needed a win to stay alive, won't be playing for a state title for the first time since 2014.
“He’s been big for us all year,” De Smet coach Christopher Durso said of Geiser. “We don’t like to play freshmen as much as we’ve played him, but he’s stepped in and you could see tonight that he’s one of the best freshmen in the league.”
Tyson Davenport and Kelly Coldwater also scored for De Smet (7-11-4) and Michael Mullen had a pair of assists. Brady Govero made 20 saves.
Patrick Simoncic and Matthew Warnecke each scored twice and had an assist and Jack Hazelton had a pair of assists for SLUH (13-6-3). Cole Jansky made 14 saves.
SLUH needed just 13 seconds to take a 1-0 lead as Simoncic buried a loose puck amid a frantic scramble in front of the De Smet net. Augustine Heithaus and Hazelton got the assists.
Davenport evened it at the 2:42 mark of the first period with a slap shot from the left circle that found the upper corner of the net through traffic.
Simoncic’s buzzer-beater gave SLUH a 2-1 advantage with one second left in the first, burying a feed from Warnecke to capitalize on the first power play for either team.
Geiser’s power-play goal at 2:59 of the second period once again drew De Smet even. Geiser threaded a slap shot through traffic from a Tyler Loughman feed to make it 2-2.
Coldwater gave De Smet its first lead of the game when his blast from the point ricocheted off of a SLUH skate to make it 3-2 with 4:52 left in the second.
“They’ve put in the work,” Durso said. “They’ve gotten better. They’ve been practicing hard. We had a few meetings going into the playoffs so we had a good feel for what we were getting involved in and I think they just executed the game plan.”
But SLUH tied it 26 seconds later as Warnecke buried a rebound off of a Nolan Meyer shot.
Geiser’s second goal of the game, and his second on the man advantage, gave the Spartans a 4-3 edge.
“I just pulled it in and shot it and hoped it went in,” Geiser said. “Lot of screens. That was my teammates covering the goalie so that was on them too.”