The Southern Oregon Spartans finally got out of the shadow of Northern Pacific Hockey League perennial power Seattle, completing a three-game sweep in the best-of-five championship series between the two junior franchises Sunday.
Tim Talty scored the tying and winning goals in the third period of a 5-4 triumph at The RRRink.
The Spartans rallied from deficits of 2-0 and 3-1.
Both teams had qualified for the USA Hockey National Championship March 30 in Rochester, Minn., but the Spartans' first NORPAC title should go a long way toward earning them a No. 1 seed, said coach Mike Stanaway.
"This is a goal we set from Day 1," said Stanaway, in his first season. "And our guys did an incredible job playing one of the best teams in the nation in Seattle. To be able to win three straight in front of our home crowd was phenomenal."
The Spartans, who at one point won 18 straight games during the regular season, scored three goals in the third.
Talty finished off the Totems with 2:02 remaining on a pass from Nick DeSimone.
Just 42 seconds into the third, Talty tied the score at 3-all, but Seattle regained the lead nearly four minutes later on a goal by Ricky Doubrava.
The final five minutes of the contest would belong to the Spartans as Joey White deadlocked the score once again on a set-up from Talty at the 15:19 mark before Talty's winning goal.
"It certainly was a tough, hard-fought game," said Stanaway. "That was a very, very good team we were up against."
He credited the outstanding play of goaltender Zach Woodman, who faced 30 shots, as a key, as well as that of Dane Irving.
"We've had a lot of firsts this year," said Stanaway. "It's the first time we were able to win a championship and the first time we're going to Rochester for the nationals. We've really set the benchmark this year. It's a credit to how hard our players have worked and how dedicated they are to achieving their goals."
Talty finished with two goals and two assists. Alex O'Leary and Irving also scored for the Spartans, who faced a 2-0 deficit just after the Totems notched consecutive goals in the second period following a scoreless opening frame.
Seattle 0 3 1 — 4
Southern Oregon 0 2 3 — 5