ROCHESTER - Tournament Most Valuable Player Nick Zern (Fort Wayne, IN/Leo) came through with the game-winning goal late in the third period as the Williston State College Tetons edged Monroe Community College 3-2 in the National Junior College Athletic Association ice hockey championship at the Sports Centre at MCC Sunday.
It is the first national championship for the Tetons (18-12-2), who avenged a loss to the Tribunes (19-8) in last year's title game.
The goal was Zern's second of the game. When he wasn't scoring, the freshman defenseman was helping keep the Monroe attack at bay.
Williston controlled the tempo in the first period but couldn't solve Tribune goalie Tom Dehr (Varysburg, NY/Batavia Notre Dame), who came up with 11 saves in the period.
Monroe was able to sustain some pressure in the second period and took a 1-0 lead when Mike Boyd (Vancouver, BC/Sullivan Heights) scored off a brilliant pass from John Papas (Irondequoit, NY/Irondequoit).
It looked as if MCC would carry the lead into the third, but Zern notched his first goal with just 3.4 seconds remaining, sliding the puck through Dehr's legs for the equalizer.
The Tribunes reclaimed the lead with 10:34 remaining as Papas slammed home a rebound past Teton goalie Tyler Ampe (Hermantown, MN/Hermantown) to go up 2-1. Tyler Underhill (Marilla, NY/St. Francis) and Tim Young (Chili, NY/Aquinas) assisted on the play.
But the Tetons responded again. A tripping penalty on Monroe put the Tetons on the man advantage, and Dwight Lee (North Vancouver, BC/Highland Secondary) was able to bury a shot to tie the game at two.
The minutes dwindled until Zern found himself with the puck once again, and the MVP put home the game-winner to set off a wild Williston celebration on the ice.
Ampe finished with 24 saves and was named to the All-Tournament team, along with Lee and Jacob Radermacher (Portland, OR/Tualatin).
Papas, Underhill, and Dehr made the All-Tourney team for Monroe. Dehr finished the afternoon with 25 saves.