South Medford captures first state crown

BEAVERTON — Preston Carney redirected Bobby Ruddle's blue-line shot into the back of the net with 3 minutes, 18 seconds left in overtime to give the South Medford hockey team a thrilling win over Klamath Falls in the state championship game Sunday afternoon at the Winterhawks Ice Center.

Carney's goal, his second of the game, capped a dramatic turnaround for the Panthers (11-10-1), who lost six of their first eight games before pulling out four consecutive overtime wins in the postseason to qualify for state.

"We had the goaltending, and we had high-powered players but they just weren't clicking," South Medford fifth-year head coach Jon Andrews said. "Then we made some line changes and moved some people around and finally one day the three big boys got it together and we started winning games."

One of those big three, Carney, a sophomore forward, scored two goals in the championship game. Ruddle and Ryan Lund added an assist apiece.

Klamath Falls scored with 48 seconds to go in the third period to force overtime, where Carney's well-timed deflection gave South Medford its first state championship after the Panthers fell in the title game last season.

"It was a hard shot," Andrews said. "Preston tipped it with his stick and it bounced just over the goalie's pad. It went through a six-inch hole. I could see the puck and saw the shot and you could see that the puck was going to hit the goalie's pad."

In the semifinals Sunday morning, South Medford avenged last year's finals loss to Three Rivers by ousting the defending state champion, 6-5.

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