COLUMBUS - The defending state champion Northview hockey team took one step closer to defending its 2012 title with a 4-2 win over to Olentangy Liberty in the state semifinal today.
Senior Nick LaPlante scored the game-winning goal 5:15 into the third period at Nationwide Arena. His power play goal came on a powerful slapshot.
The Wildcats allowed two odd-man rushes and fell behind by two goals just 7:08 into the state semi. But Northview rallied with four unanswered goals.
Northview tied it up at 2 with goals from seniors Drew Crandall and Zander Pryor in the second period. Crandall scored on an assist from Pryor, who then tied it with a shorthanded, unassisted goal with 59 seconds left in the second period.
Pryor added an empty net goal with 0.7 seconds left.
Northview goalie David Marsh settled in and finished with 18 saves. With 5:14 left, Marsh made four consecutive saves in a matter of seconds to protect the lead during a scramble in front of his net.
The Wildcats, who were ranked fifth in the final state poll, also had to rally to upset No. 2 St. John's Jesuit in the district final.
Northview (27-6-1) will take on Shaker Heights (26-7-0) in the state final on Saturday at Nationwide Arena at 7 p.m. The Wildcats defeated Shaker Heights 3-2 on Dec. 30.