16 years ago today: IceCats trailed 6-1 entering final period, win 7-6

On March 30, 2003, in what many longtime Worcester hockey fans consider to be the greatest period ever played at the DCU Center, the IceCats scored five goals in the third period to turn a 6-1 deficit into a 6-6 overtime thriller. Jeff panzer made the night complete with an overtime goal to give Worcester a 7-6 win.

From the then IceCats official site:

WORCESTER, MA – Trailing 6-1 entering the third period, it looked like the Worcester IceCats were set for their second straight loss. But a five-goal third period explosion and Jeff Panzer’s hat trick goal in overtime capped an improbable 7-6 comeback win over Manchester Sunday at Worcester’s Centrum Centre.
Down 3-1 after the first on Manchester goals from Kip Brennan, Pavel Rosa and Jeff Giuliano, the ‘Cats spotted the Monarchs a five-goal cushion on second period goals from Chris Aldous and a pair by former IceCat Derek Bekar. Jeremy Yablonski had Worcester’s only goal to that point.
The comeback began 4:27 into the third when Panzer potted his first of the night. Johnny Pohl followed at 6:11. Panzer then made it a three-goal game at 11:59 finishing a cross-crease pass from Ernie Hartlieb.
On their heels, Manchester pulled starting goalie Jeff Sanger in favor of Travis Scott. It didn’t pay off, as Aris Brimanis ripped a shot past an unsuspecting Scott from center ice just five seconds after Panzer scored his second goal. Pohl buried his second of the game with 1:13 remaining in regulation, tying the game at 6-6. Panzer’s overtime winner, and 20th goal of the season, came 1:53 into the overtime session as he redirected a high-slot shot from rookie Mike Stuart.
Curtis Sanford, who was initially pulled after Manchester’s fourth goal, returned to the net to start the third period and earned the win with 17 saves. Manchester’s Scott took the loss.

From the AHL Monarchs official site:

WORCESTER, Massachusetts – Jeff Panzer’s hat trick goal 1:07 into overtime completed an improbable third period comeback and gave the Worcester IceCats a stunning 7-6 win over the Manchester Monarchs on Sunday afternoon at the Worcester Centrum Centre.
The IceCats appeared dead after 40 minutes trailing 6-1, but they rallied with five even strength goals in the third period, including John Pohl’s game-tying tally with 1:13 remaining in regulation. Pohl scored his 22nd goal against goaltender Travis Scott, who had unexpectedly entered the game seven minutes earlier.
Scott, obviously still cold after coming off the bench, yielded a goal to Aris Brimanis with 7:56 remaining to make it 6-5 Monarchs. Brimanis triggered his eighth goal from the red line after receiving the center ice draw from Greg Day. Just five seconds earlier, the IceCats had chased starter Jeff Sanger from the game after the rookie netminder was unable to stop Panzer’s second goal of the game and 19th goal overall with 8:01 remaining.
Early period goals from Panzer and Pohl made it 6-3. Panzer registered his 18th goal of the year at 4:27 with Valeev assisting. Pohl’s 21st goal was assisted by defense Terry Virtue and Eric Nickulas at 6:11.
The Monarchs took control of the game early, receiving goals from Kip Brennan, Pavel Rosa and Jeff Giuliano on eight first period shots. Brennan scored first, firing Yanick Lehoux’s set up pass by goaltender Curtis Sanford and into the net at 8:32. Rookie George Parros collected his first professional point by tipping the loose puck to Lehoux at center ice, creating the odd-man rush. The goal for Brennan was his third this season.
Rosa needed just 19 seconds to cash in a Monarchs power play, scoring his 25th goal at 12:47 of the period. Former IceCat Derek Bekar extended his season-high point streak to nine games with an assist on the play. An assist was also credited to defenseman Jason Holland.
The IceCats rallied 38 seconds later to make it a 2-1 with Jeremy Yablonski’s first goal of the season. Igor Valeev and Day assisted as Yablonski’s shot slid just inside the right post before Sanger could make the save.
Brandon Dietrich and Jeff Giuliano teamed up late in the period for the Monarchs third goal. Dietrich, skating out of the left corner, expertly threaded his pass to the waiting Giuliano, positioned on the backside of the crease. Giuliano quickly received the pass and slammed it home with just 10 seconds remaining in the period to give the Monarchs the 3-1 edge.
The Monarchs chased Sanford from the game mid-way through the middle period with goals from Bekar and defenseman Chris Aldous just 58 seconds apart. Bekar scored his 16th goal of the year at 7:46 with assistance from Eric Healey and Rosa. Healey’s point was his team-leading 69th this season. Aldous made it 5-1 Monarchs with his fifth goal of the season at 8:44. Lehoux and Leon Hayward earned helpers on the goal, which sent Sanford to the bench for the remainder of the period.
Reinhard Divis replaced Sanford in the Worcester net, but he failed to stop the bleeding as Bekar scored his second goal of the game and his 17th goal of the season at 19:44 to make it 6-1. Rosa’s assist on the play was his third point of the game. Defenseman Richard Seeley also registered an assist on the play.
Sanford returned to the cage in the final period, and he made several game saving stops while leading the IceCats to the remarkable win.

From the AP game recap:

WORCESTER, MA – Trailing 6-1 entering the third period, it looked like the Worcester IceCats were set for their second straight loss. But a five-goal third period explosion and Jeff Panzer’s hat trick goal in overtime capped an improbable 7-6 comeback win over Manchester Sunday at Worcester’s Centrum Centre.
Down 3-1 after the first on Manchester goals from Kip Brennan, Pavel Rosa and Jeff Giuliano, the ‘Cats spotted the Monarchs a five-goal cushion on second period goals from Chris Aldous and a pair by former IceCat Derek Bekar. Jeremy Yablonski had Worcester’s only goal to that point.
The comeback began 4:27 into the third when Panzer potted his first of the night. Johnny Pohl followed at 6:11. Panzer then made it a three-goal game at 11:59 finishing a cross-crease pass from Ernie Hartlieb.
On their heels, Manchester pulled starting goalie Jeff Sanger in favor of Travis Scott. It didn’t pay off, as Aris Brimanis ripped a shot past an unsuspecting Scott from center ice just five seconds after Panzer scored his second goal. Pohl buried his second of the game with 1:13 remaining in regulation, tying the game at 6-6. Panzer’s overtime winner, and 20th goal of the season, came 1:53 into the overtime session as he redirected a high-slot shot from rookie Mike Stuart.
Curtis Sanford, who was initially pulled after Manchester’s fourth goal, returned to the net to start the third period and earned the win with 17 saves. Manchester’s Scott took the loss.

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