BALLWIN • De Smet senior winger Jeffrey Makowski could not have picked a more fitting tribute to a fallen classmate.
On the one-year anniversary of the death of student Adrian Bowman, Makowski scored the game-winning goal in a shootout to lead De Smet past Francis Howell Central 1-0 in the quarterfinal round of the Mid-States Club Hockey Association Challenge Cup at Queeny Recreation Complex.
Third-seeded De Smet (14-8-4) will face second-seeded Saint Louis U. High (19-4-3) in a two-game semifinal series beginning Feb. 19.
Makowski decided the two-game series with a nifty move that gave De Smet a 2-0 lead in the best-of-three shootout. The teams split a pair of games and battled through a scoreless 10-minute mini-game before heading to penalty shots.
Bowman, a football player at the school, died a year ago Monday. He was not a hockey player, but wore No. 7 on the football field. Makowski scrawled a short message on the white tape of the blade of his stick prior to the contest. It read: RIP, A.B. No. 7.
"The De Smet community is pretty close and we're all pretty supportive," Makowski said. "This was really special. I was glad we were able to get a win."
The De Smet players wanted to make sure Bowman was still remembered among the De Smet family.
"He was friends with everyone," senior goalie Connor Walsh added. "We wanted to honor him and made sure no one forgets."
The De Smet squad looked like a team on mission. It won the second game of the series 5-0 on Monday after dropping the opener 5-4 on Friday. William Carter, Kevin Pavlacic, Thomas Horak, Derek Northrup and Stephen Randazzo all scored goals.
But the star of the night was Walsh. The veteran stopped 25 shots in the second game, made several key saves in the mini-game, and turned aside both penalty shots in the shootout. He got a piece of a backhand attempt by Shane Quinn and then stonewalled Cory Robinson with a nifty pad save in the shootout.
In addition, he recorded an eye-popping blocker save in the mini-game that forced a shootout.
"I knew he was going to have a big game tonight," De Smet coach Michael Berra said. "He wasn't happy about his first game. He really shut the door this time."
Sophomore Jared Westcott gave DeSmet a 1-0 lead in the shootout by pounding the puck through Central goalie Graham Nave, who also made a pair of fine saves in the mini-game.
Walsh then made his pad stop against Robinson to set the stage for Makowski's series winner.
"He's been the heart and soul of this organization for four years," Berra said of Makowski. "I told my coaches if there's one guy that I want to have take that last shot, he's the one. He's one of our best players and he's a great kid on and off the ice."
After dropping the opener of the quarterfinal series, De Smet seemed to determined to take the two-game affair to the brink.
Carter deflected in a shot from the point by Brad Litwicki just 2 minutes and 34 seconds into Game 2. Pavlacic and Horak put the contest away with second-period goals.
"We were pumped up," Walsh said. "We knew it was either (win) or the season was over."
Central coach John Rocco Aliberti was pleased with his club's performance. It outshot De Smet 25-23 in the second game.
"We had our opportunities," Aliberti said. "When we made a mistake, they put it in the net. They capitalized on every mistake we made."
Seventh-seeded Howell Central (16-7-1) managed to grab back some of the momentum in the third period and also controlled play at times in the mini-game. But Walsh recorded one huge save after another with the season on line.
"I call them the cardiac kids," Berra said. "We play some (exciting) games. They're going to give (me) a heart attack."
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