Northview senior Jake Koback, right, is swarmed by his teammates after scoring in the first period against St. Ignatius to give the Wildcats the lead. St. Ignatius tied it in the third period.
COLUMBUS — Call it the Marsh Miracle or maybe Marsh Madness.
History was made on Saturday when the Northview hockey team battled to an unprecedented tie for a state championship in spectacular fashion.
Northview senior goalie David Marsh was magnificent throughout, making a state-tournament record 77 saves in the epic tilt that took 101 minutes of hockey to complete.
The underdog Wildcats (18-13-1) tied No. 1-ranked Cleveland St. Ignatius 1-1 when a draw was declared after the teams played seven overtimes in a historic title game at Nationwide Arena.
RELATED LINK: OHSAA statement regarding decision to end game in tie
PHOTO GALLERY: Click here to view photos of the game.
It was the longest contest in state final history and fell just four minutes shy of tying for the longest game in Ohio high school hockey history.
Dan Ross, the commissioner of the Ohio High School Athletic Association, announced that the schools would share the title just prior to an eighth overtime. Ross said the decision, which was roundly booed by the crowd, was based on player safety and agreed to by all sides.
“The kids were spent,” Ross told The Blade. “There were kids that were really, really struggling getting off the ice for both teams. Our job is to make sure the kids are going to be okay. Both coaches agreed with the decision.”
All involved also agreed that Marsh was the only reason the game lasted more than four and a half hours.
Marsh made 36 saves in regulation, including 12 stops in the second period and 17 in the third period. He stopped 41 pucks overall in the seven overtimes.
“I wasn't really tired,” Marsh said. “When you are in this type of moment, the adrenaline is just pumping. During that last overtime I had a couple pushes that I thought were faster than in the first period. I was doing everything I could do to win a state title. I found my center, and I knew the guys in front of me would get it done.”
St. Ignatius (31-4-6) finished with a 78-32 edge in shots.
“It was absolutely amazing,” Northview coach Mike Jones said. “I've never seen 40 kids — both teams — do what they just did. They fought and clawed and scratched and hit each other. ... I'm proud to be a part of it.”
Northview tallied the game's first goal when senior Jake Koback scored 6:42 into the game. Koback collected a long rebound off of a shot by Cody Estrel and scored with a quick snap shot. Jake Koback's junior brother Josh got the play started.
But St. Ignatius tied it with 7:45 left in regulation. Marsh made the first save but was on the ice when Danny Brogan scored on a one-timer.
“That has to be one of the all-time great state championship performances,” St. Ignatius coach Patrick O'Rourke said. “I don't know if we ever would have solved him again. We were peppering him. We had a couple cross bars and pipes. He was stopping everything.”
Marsh got stronger as the game went on, and St. Ignatius attacked with relentless pressure.
Between the overtime periods, players from both sides downed Pedialyte and Gatorade to stay replenished.
“I have kids that can't walk to the shower,” Jones said. “We used plenty of fluids. We had them eat oranges and bananas to pump something in them. We had stuff keep coming, and I don't know where it was coming from.
“But they were cramping up. No one wants it on their watch to have something catastrophic happen. They had lost so many nutrients and fluids, the body will tense up.”
The decision to declare the tie was made by the schools’ athletic directors and OHSAA officials. There also was talk of extending it for one more overtime or two overtimes. No shootouts or resumption of the game at a later date was discussed.
“It's uncharted territory,” O'Rourke said. “The last thing you want is to have a kid that's loopy and then get creamed. Who knows what can happen, maybe a head injury. I understand the rationale totally. The issue was player safety.”
A similar decision was made in 2008 in Michigan when that state title was declared a draw after eight overtimes. The Division 1 game between Marquette and Orchard Lake St. Mary's set the national record for the longest high school game, ending in a 1-1 tie after eight overtimes and 109 minutes.
The previous record for most total minutes played in a postseason game was set in 2007 by Ohio schools Solon and Aurora at 105 minutes.
According to the National Federation of State High School Associations, the most overtimes played in a high school game took place in 1955 in Minnesota. That game totaled 100 minutes of playing time.
The Wildcats willed their way with three upsets over higher seeds along the way to reach the title game for a third straight season. Northview won the first state title in school history in 2012.
Estrel, the team captain, called the game “unreal.”
“It's the best thing I've been a part of,” Estrel said. “It's bittersweet. A lot of us ended our years of hockey today. But at the end of the day we are state champions.”
Northview senior Caleb Rau said the players wanted to continue.
“When they told us, it was one of the worst feelings,” Rau said. “It was hard on the seniors. Everyone wanted to go finish that game.”
O'Rourke said his team had the better of the play.
“We outshot them, but their goaltender was outstanding,” he said. “It was something we'll never forget. There is disappointment for both teams. But I think five minutes into our bus ride home, we'll pop in Slap Shot and that will pass.”
Marsh was machine-like, getting into good position and making saves in every conceivable way. He also had some help as Ignatius hit the post and cross bar several times.
“It was epic,” Jones said. “He stopped  shots. I'm speechless. He's the reason why we are state co-champions.”