Scoring early often translates into winning. Judge Memorial reaped the benefits of its early opportunities during Tuesday's Utah High School Hockey championship game against Viewmont.
The Bulldogs scored four total goals within the first five minutes of each period and defeated the Vikings 5-2 at the Salt Lake City Sports Complex. Nick O'Cain scored four straight goals following a 1-1 tie after the first period.
"This is just a dream come true," said O'Cain, who will head to Westminster on a scholarship. "Nothing can be sweeter than this. Just the fact of scoring in the state championship is a dream come true. I'm going to cherish all four goals."
O'Cain spent his first three years at East High before transferring to Judge, hoping to earn a scholarship and a state championship. He achieved both.
Judge needed just two minutes to score the game's first goal, as Matthew Villar found the net on a wrap-around shot. Viewmont answered shortly before the end of the first period on Payden Tanner's shorthanded goal.
From there, it was the O'Cain Show.
"He came here as a man on a mission," Judge coach Anthony Musci said of O'Cain. "We feel blessed. Our team has worked incredibly hard and made sacrifices to get here. It was very important to get those early goals because Viewmont is a very deep and talented team. If they get a lead on you, they'll pack it in."
O'Cain scored on a putback barely a minute into the second period to break the tie, and again on a Judge power play a few minutes later. As if that wasn't enough, O'Cain stole the puck and skated past the Viewmont defense to complete his hat trick short-handed with five minutes remaining in the period.
Along with the short-handed goal, the Bulldogs snuffed out all four Viking power plays in the championship game.
"That's kind of been our forte all year," Musci said. "The players on our first line they're just dangerous. Short-handed goals swing momentum in your favor."
True to form, the Bulldogs padded their lead to 5-1 two minutes into the third period on O'Cain's fourth and final goal of the game.
Viewmont, which had 23 shots on goal compared to 20 for Judge, cut into the lead on Travis Koury's goal from near center ice. Koury's blast deflected off the glove of Judge's goalie and trickled into the net, giving the Vikings some hope.
However, Viewmont couldn't take advantage of its last power play in the final minutes, as Judge preserved the lead and skated off as champions.
Storylines Judge claims state title
R Nick O'Cain scores four straight goals to lead Judge to a 5-2 win and the title.