The senior defenseman let one go from the left point, and the puck eluded Seckman goalie Jack Knoll for what would turn out to be the game-winner, but not until Fox goalie Christian Flamm stood tall in the Mid States Club Hockey Association Suburban Conference game.
Flamm had to hold off the potent Seckman offense for those final six and a half minutes, including a short-handed situation, after Knoll was pulled for a sixth attacker.
But things worked out for the Warriors in their 5-4 victory, lifting them to 4-6 under new head coach Jake Young. The Jaguars, also playing under a new guiding hand in Kory Haywood, dropped to 5-2-1 on the season.
After his eventual clinching score, giving him a three-point night (one goal and two assists, matching the output of teammates Jared Bratton and Clayton Liefeld), Hegger was all smiles as he explained there was a little more behind his goal than just putting the win away.
“That was pretty cool, getting the game-winning goal against my cousin,” the 6-2, 230-pound Hegger said, referring to Knoll. “In fact, we were just joking about that on Thanksgiving. I told him I was going to score a goal on him. I found the open lane, and I really don’t think he even saw it. And I think getting a big win like this going forward gives us a lot of confidence.”
His coach agreed.
“By far, it’s the biggest win we’ve had all year,” Young said. “The way our season has gone, this could be a huge turning point. That was a huge goal (by Charlie), especially for him being a senior and having the game-winner. I know that made it more special for him because he wanted to score pretty badly.”
Seckman jumped to an early lead when Parker Winkelmann got the puck behind Flamm just 58 seconds in. But the Warriors took a 2-1 lead after the first period, with Liefeld scoring at the 11:34 mark, and Bratton at 13:05. Matthew McGowan’s tally at the 4:49 mark of the second made it 2-2 and the teams headed to a wild third period where five goals were scored.
Winkelmann got his second goal of the game, on a wrap-around 32 seconds into the third. But Jack Michel (at 4:23) and Gavin Raney (6:49) gave Fox a 4-3 edge. Tyler Culleton knotted the contest again at 7:34, before Hegger’s heroics came at 8:29, setting up Flamm’s defense of the Jaguars’ rapid-fire attack in the closing minutes.
“He played the best game I’ve seen him play,” Young said of his goalie. “Especially the saves he made down the stretch. It was like putting a brick wall in front of the net in those final minutes. I wouldn’t point out any specific players, but as a team we have to continue to play our game. We have the talent, speed and skill. If we (play our game) I think we’ll be able to play with the best of them.”
Flamm said he was prepared for a wild game.
“We seem to play our best games against Seckman,” he said. “They’re pretty tough, and I was just focused on my footwork. We kind of knew what they were going to do, and it worked. But it was a crazy game.”
Seckman outshot Fox 29-27, but the Jaguars’ coach said that was of little solace.
“Fox played a great game,” Haywood said. “I think we went in overly emotional and didn’t stick to any of our game plan. They made good passes, moved the puck, and played a north-south game – everything we wanted to do. Our effort was subpar, and there really wasn’t much to like.”
Haywood said he believes that better days are ahead for his Jaguars.
“We started back in July, so they had all the summer stuff to go through,” he said. “We gave them an idea of what we wanted to do, and the system we wanted to run, which is a little different from what they’ve had here. Winkelmann, McGowan and Culleton are obviously standouts, but we’ve got a lot of other guys focused on doing more. We’ve moved Grant Tamminga, who was a defenseman, to a forward spot, and Chase Riley is doing the same thing. And we’re giving Carter Ammel and Gavin Freie (both sophomores) more ice time. This system, I think, makes it easier for the players to work in.”
McGowan had a four-point night in the loss on a goal and three assists, while Winkelmann accounted for three points, with his two goals and a helper.
The game drew a packed house as both teams raised money for Cole’s Hope Foundation. Cole Buehner is the son of Chad and Gina Buehner and $765 was raised at the game to benefit local homeless teens. Cole, 17, was a junior at Seckman. He died in October 2014 from injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident.