MANCHESTER— Adam Tack wasn't originally part of the Manchester Memorial High School varsity hockey team.
It wasn't until after a preseason jamboree that coach Mark Putney decided to give Tack a spot on the roster after another player left the team, and boy what a decision that was.
Tack scored the game-winning goal 3:21 into overtime to give the Crusaders a 3-2 win over Manchester Central in the Division I championship in front of a lively crowd at Verizon Wireless Arena on Saturday night.
"It was a long road, I stuck with it," Tack said. "I never quit. Then just a dream come true to put the game winner in the net."
The goal was set up by a shot from the circle by Nicholas Burgess, that was stopped by Little Green goalie Ian Beliveau (38 saves). The rebound kicked out to Tack in front and the senior put it in the net to throw the Crusader crowd into a frenzy.
"He came to play," Memorial coach Mark Putney said. "Then he ended up putting that last one home. Great win, good for him."
It was the first time two Manchester public schools played for the title, and what a game it was. Bryan Syrene scored with 3:11 left in regulation to give the Crusaders a 2-1 lead only to have his heroics outdone less than two minutes later when Central captain Mitch Fortin tied the game up with 1:37 left to force overtime.
It was Memorial that had the better chances in the extra period and got the only one that counted.
"It's a tough loss for the boys," Central coach Brian Stone said. "They had a good year, had a good run at it but just fell short."
Memorial, which lost to Pinkerton Academy of Derry in the championship last year, finishes the season with a record of 17-4, while the Little Green end with a mark of 16-5.
It's the Crusader's first ttitle since 1995.
The Little Green struck first with a goal from Devon Sprague, who capitalized on a two-on-one chance with Tyler Stratton in the first period.
Stratton carried the puck into the Crusader zone on the right side and hit Sprague with a pass on the left. Sprague one-timed the puck past Memorial goalie Joshua Jacob (14 saves) to make it 1-0 with 2:29 left in the period.
The Crusaders tied it up with the only goal of the second period, which came from Kyle Broussard with 1:10 left.
It came down to the final 15 minutes and it looked like Memorial was going to get the job done in regulation when Syrene scored with 3:11 left to make it 2-1.
The goal was set up on some hard work behind the net by captain Colin Williamson, who dug out a puck and threw it out front to Syrene. Syrene then somehow managed to poke it in.
"I saw him coming down so I threw it to the front of the net," Williamson said. "Somehow it went in. I have no clue how it ended up in the back of the net but it went in."
The game wasn't over yet. Shortly after a timeout, the Little Green tied it up when Fortin punched the puck past Jacob during a scrum in front of the net to tie it up 2-2.
"I told them basically to crash the net (during the timeout)," Stone said. "Get on the puck. We need two or three people on it at all times. Just crash it."
Then it was the little guy, 5-foot-5 sophomore Burgess, who hustled for a puck behind the net and set up the game winner to the kid who didn't even start the season with the team.
"It's unbelievable," Williamson said about winning a title. "After last year we were all so disappointed. We knew we had a great team coming into this year. It's amazing."
Memorial 3, Central 2 (OT)
Central (16-5) 1-0-1-0—2
Memorial (17-4) 0-1-1-1—3
First: C - Devon Sprague (Tyler Stratton, Trevor Malmgren) 12:31 ppg
Second: M - Kyle Broussard (Bryan Syrene. Adam Tack) 13:50
Third: M - Syrene (Williamson) 11:49 ppg; C - Fortin (Tim Tetreault, Malmgren) 13:23
OT: M- Tack (Nicholas Burgess)
Goalies: C - Ian Beliveau 38; M - Joshua Jacob 16