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Goalie shines as Leo falls at state

– The goal that wasn’t is what will stick with the Leo Lions, at least for a while. But the guy between the pipes is what Leo coach Dan Schiebel will take away from the Class 2A hockey state championship game at Fishers Ice Forum on Saturday afternoon.

“Best game that Aaron Hopkins has ever played in his life,” he said of his senior goalie, after the Lions lost a heart-rending 1-0 decision to Penn. “It truly was.”

And if it ended with the puck finally getting behind him with 56 seconds to play, it diminished not in the slightest the previous 44 minutes, when Hopkins made one big save after another in a goaltender duel for the ages with Penn’s Zach Fadorsen.

In the end, it came down to this: a Leo penalty with 1:18 left that led to Penn’s Alan Sinclair planting a rebound behind Hopkins 22 seconds later, and the decision to disallow an apparent Leo goal at the 4:20 mark of the third period.

The referee and goal judge initially ruled it a goal when Fadorsen’s glove, with the puck inside, apparently strayed over the goal line. After a brief consultation, that was judged not to be the case.

“I still would like to see a replay,” Schiebel said. “The goal judge lit it. The referee pointed to it. And then after the discussion the goal judge changed his mind. He was saying it wasn’t in his glove, but his glove broke the plane of the crease.

“But that’s history.”

And history in this case will record that Leo outshot the Kingsmen 28-24, including 11-2 in the first period, and couldn’t solve Fadorsen. And that, at other end, Hopkins made three enormous saves in the last 3:35 – stoning Sinclair on a bang-bang rebound, making a pad save on Austin Pedue at the corner of the goal on a cross-ice pass, and snapping up Daniel Augsburger’s wrister from between the circles in the big glove.

“I felt like I was playing real good,” Hopkins said. “It kind of sucks that the one goal goes in with a minute left and we lose the game. It’s really unfortunate, but you’ve got to deal with it.”

Schiebel agreed.

“We told the kids at the intermission that Aaron was in this game to win it, but we just couldn’t get it there,” he said. “But 1-0 against the No. 2 seed? Not too bad. Not too bad.”