This week’s ice hockey notebook highlights some of the SHSHL action of the past week.
By Mike Prince, Sportswriter
After a nice, relaxing hiatus for the holidays, teams from around the Suburban High School Hockey League got back into action last Wednesday with a long slate of games that were on tap between teams in all of the conferences.
And if you asked the coaches of the winning teams what they were most happy to see (besides the victories, of course), it was how their teams responded after being on break for so long.
Starting with the National Conference, which featured possibly the upset of the week, where Council Rock North (6-4-1, 6-2-1) was on the losing end of a meeting with William Tennent (5-5-1, 4-5-0) on Wednesday, as the Panthers came away with a 4-3 victory.
Andrew Bean scored what turned out to be the eventual game-winning goal 15 seconds into the third period for Tennent, which had been on the losing end of four consecutive conference games, including a seven-goal loss to North Penn and a 10-goal defeat at the hands of Souderton last month.
“It was an upset and CR North has been having a great season,” Tennent coach Nick D’Aurizio said. “On the other hand, we haven’t been playing well at all, but a lot of that can be attributed to injuries and sicknesses and a lot of the guys being out of the lineup. Their returns have really helped, and now that we’ve also been playing so badly of late, I think teams are maybe going to overlook us a bit. I think we’re going to start taking some teams by surprise and I think that happened (Wednesday) night.
“It was a huge win for us, and I think it should really help us to turn a corner now that we’re healthy and getting our players back. We’re really happy with the win.”
Bean led the Panthers with two goals and one assist, while Gary Matyok and Dalton Shields scored the other goals for Tennent. Goalie Zachary Dorsey stopped 25 shots in net to earn the win. Justin Fricke, Colton Snow and Tristan Wieczorek all scored goals CR North, which currently sits in second place in the conference behind Council Rock South.
In other National Conference action, CR South played on back-to-back days last week, defeating Central Bucks East by a score of 4-1 last Thursday in a non-conference game before coming out with a 9-0 victory over Pennsbury in the National Conference meeting.
The Golden Hawks (8-2-0, 8-1-0) saw goalie Justin Houk have an excellent two-game stretch, stopping 29 of 30 shots in the win against CB East before stopping all 10 shots against the Falcons (2-11-0, 2-10-0) to earn the shutout.
“Justin (Houk) has been playing solid,” said CR South coach Joe Houk, the father of Justin. “He struggled at the beginning of the year a little bit, but we got him focused on the right track and he came up big.”
CR South tallied 51 shots in last Thursday’s win, before taking another 50 on Friday. In the first game, Alexander Drobot scored once and added two assists, Nicholas Heck recorded a goal and an assist and Kyle Walter and Jake Nevin each scored once.
In the win last Friday, the Golden Hawks received one goal apiece from Walter, Jacob Wieber, Thomas Kozior, Jason Brockman, Jake Nevin, Kyle Bradley and Jevon Fillette, as well as two goals from Drobot, giving CR South scoring from eight different players.
“Honestly, when you get contributions from all of your lines like that, that’s when you get big games,” coach Houk said. “That’s the big thing with our games going down the stretch here. Our team is focused during games and at practice. It’s the first time we’ve had our full team back (minus one guy) in about three weeks.
“We usually carry 17, but it’s been tough. I thought we did an excellent job and I thought all three lines were clicking and moving the puck well. When you move the puck like that and stick to your game plan, you’re going to come out on top.”
Moving to the American Conference, Lansdale Catholic (5-2-0, 5-1-0) used a four-goal first period to easily get by Upper Dublin (3-4-1, 3-3-0), winning by a score of 11-1 in an in-league meeting last Thursday at Bucks County Ice Sports Center.
As they usually do, the Longhitano brothers led the way for the Crusaders, with Michael finishing with two goals and five assists, while Patrick added two goals and one assist. Andrew Hart had a fantastic night, adding a hat trick to go along with his three assists to help LC to the win.
“We came back pretty strong after the break,” LC coach Mark DiDonato said. “I was worried about the layoff and about their holiday legs. We came out against one of the best teams we’ve played all year and pretty much took care of business, as you can see by the score. We ’10-runned’ them. We’ve been pretty lucky this year. Guys have been coming ready to play every game.”
LC’s goalkeeper, Helen Cooney, was only forced to make three saves on four total shots to earn the win. Upper Dublin’s lone goal was scored by Tyler Peskin.
In other American Conference action, Archbishop Wood and Plymouth Whitemarsh met at Bucks County Ice Sports Center last Wednesday, with the Vikings coming out with a dominating victory.
The first-place Vikings (7-1-1, 6-1-0) outshot PW 40-2 and scored seven goals in the first period alone en route to a 12-0 win over the Colonials (1-6-0, 1-6-).
Leading the way for Wood were Kevin Neily (three goals, four assists), Matt Mandes (three goals, two assists), Patrick Vacanaugh (two goals, one assist), Jonathan Rosica (one goal, two assists) and Tim Schisselbauer (three assists). Michael Anzideo and Shane Lydon also added a goal and an assist apiece in the shutout effort.
“We definitely needed to get better, as we had some guys sick and it was good to get back on the ice after two weeks of rest,” Wood coach Sam Gallen said. “We definitely came back with a renewed purpose, so it was good to see. We got some balanced scoring, which his very important. We feel like we have three lines who can all help and we try to get everybody to work up and down the ice offensively and defensively, so it was good to see them spread it out amongst the lines.”
Finally, in Continental Conference action from the past week, North Penn, which currently holds the first-place spot with a record of 7-1-1 (8-1-1 overall), played host to second-place Souderton last Friday night at Flyers SkateZone in Vorhees, NJ.
The Knights scored three goals in the first period en route to a 7-3 win, despite being outshot 40-31 by the Indians (7-5-0, 7-4-0). In the win, North Penn was led by Matthew Stella’s two goals and two assists, as well as Caleb Witzaney’s two goals and one assist. Jeremy Snyder added a goal and two helpers, while Nick Capasso scored once and assisted on another. Alex Peterson also netted one goal for the Knights.
“I thought we came out and played very strong,” North Penn coach Kevin Vaitis said. “We had a 6-0 lead at one point and I thought we played strong into the second period before maybe taking our foot off the pedal a little bit. I was more concerned that was how we were going to play to start the game, but it was a nice surprise to see us play that way early right out of the gate. It was nice to come back and get a win right away after the break.”
North Penn is off until next Thursday when it visits Holy Ghost Prep.
Souderton was led by Dylan Manto’s two goals in the losing effort.
Pennridge was another Continental Conference team which played games both last Thursday and Friday. The Rams were defeated last Thursday by Souderton (which also played both days) by a score of 6-3.
Souderton (7-5-0, 7-4-0) was was led by Manto and Clay Anders in the win, as they each scored two goals. Alex Politsky also added three assists. Matt Brown led Pennridge (4-6-0, 4-5-0) with two goals, while Jake Wexler chipped in with a goal and an assist.
The following day, Pennridge played to an 8-1 win over Central Bucks West (0-10-0, 0-9-0), which is still without a conference win on the season.
In the win, the Rams were led by Tyler Shagen, who recorded a hat trick. Matt Brown and Kyle Henofer each scored twice, while Henofer added an assist. Shane Dotterer added a goal and two assists for Pennridge, which got 18 saves in net from Dustin Wexler in the winning effort.