A tandem with Trail ties teamed up to notch the winning goal that propelled the ZSC Lions to the Swiss National Hockey League title Tuesday night.
Trail native Steve McCarthy scored the winning goal with less than three seconds remaining on the clock to lift the Lions to a 2-1 Game 7 victory over Bern.
With seconds remaining in the match, the Lions’ Andres Ambuhl carried the puck over the blue line and drove wide to the net. His shot, lay on the goal line, but the Bern netminder managed to keep it out.
In a frantic goal-mouth scramble, teammate and former Vancouver Canuck Jeff Tambellini got the puck back to McCarthy who fired it over the sprawling goalie.
“I think it was in his (Tambellini’s) feet and he kicked it to me,” McCarthy told a reporter after the game.
“It was an open net and I don’t score many of those, but it feels pretty good.”
The Lions had an amazing playoff run.
After finishing in seventh spot in the NLA regular season, the team swept both title favorites HC Davos (2nd overall) and EV Zug (1st overall), winning eight straight games before facing SC Bern in the final series. The Lions fought back from a 3 games to 1 deficit against Bern, to tie the series and force the deciding game.
“I’m speechless, the guys went through a lot this year, we put in a lot of work and it’s great to see the guys get rewarded,” McCarthy said after the game. “Hats off to Bern, it could have gone either way.”
The former Trail Smoke Eater, captained the WHL’s Kootenay Ice and Team Canada’s junior team before moving onto the NHL with the Chicago Blackhawks, who drafted him in the first round.
McCarthy also played for the Vancouver Canucks and Atlanta Thrashers and joined former Thrashers coach Bob Hartley, now coach of the Lions, in Zurich, Switzerland following his NHL career.
The victory will be extra sweet for Tambellini, who lost in the Stanley Cup Final Game 7 last season against the Boston Bruins.
His father Steve Tambellini was born in Trail and now is currently GM for the Edmonton Oilers.