Clash with the Titans ends in tie

Seniors Albano and Oh track down the puck together.

HATFIELD- In the Knights eighth matchup of the season and second meeting with the defending SHSHL champions, the North Penn ice hockey squad opened up the new year with a well disciplined, hard nosed, physical game which ultimately ended as a draw in the books.

The North Penn Knights (4-2-2) hosted the Central Buck South Titans (5-2-1) Thursday night at Hatfield Ice Arena in a game that ended in a 2-2 tie, but it lived up to the hype created between two teams with very similar records, grit, and motives on the season.

Marissa Werner
Tuozzo glides down the ice in the first period.

“Throughout the season I can just see that we are progressing throughout the year and every person from underclassmen to seniors are all stepping up. We know that we are not gonna go down without a fight against any team and work hard for all 48 minutes of the game,” said Knights captain and senior, Jared Albano.

A constant trade of possessions and dumping the puck in the opposition end of the ice was the theme of the early parts of the contest, however the Titans found themselves and connected with the back of the net following a wrist shot from South defenseman, Ryan Gingras, that bounced in and out of the glove of freshman goaltender, Nick Ebbinghaus, and trickled into the back of the Knights net.  The first period concluded with only 10 shots put up between both teams and a 1-0 CB South lead. North Penn wasted no time in responding to the deficit with a goal of their own in a matter of 8 seconds to the start of the second period.

“Before the draw Jared and I talked about it and I told him to just push it forward toward my side and I’ll try to make something happen and the puck landed right on my stick, got by the defensemen and shot it on net and it went in. We had a great first period even though the scoreboard didn’t show it so getting a goal 8 seconds in really helped fire us up for the rest of the game and know that we can score on one of the best goalies in the league,” stated senior, Nate Oh.

The faceoff win and connection from Albano to Oh would indeed fire up the Knights as the hits and lock down defense would step up as both squads continued to trade shots of net. An Albano blocked shot from Titan defenseman, Dominick Liberta, and an intercepted pass from Knights’ defenseman, Thomas Boyle, highlighted some of the defensive efforts put off by the Knights in a dogfight on the ice. Even a little help from the post kept the game tied after a right handed wrister from Titan forward, Reis Braccio, that ringed off the pipe and exhaust and opportunity to give a South 2-1 lead.

“The defense really stepped up and played their part today which helped to the overall result in the game and that was key. We understand that we can play with any team and be the best team,”said junior Josh Kaufhold.

With 14:30 left in the second period, Gingras collected his second point on the night as he picked up an assist after he fed Matt Milanesi in front of North Penn’s crease and bank home a goal to give the Titans a 2-1 lead that they rode with into the last period of play. The speed that the Knight’s offense demonstrates every game is electric, and this same effort was put on once again by junior, Tyler Greenstein, and aided him in his ability to split the Titans defense and find senior, Jake Nelson on the left side of the crease to deliver home and open net, game tying goal with over 11 minutes still to play in the third.

Marissa Werner
Kaufhold skates down the ice looking for the puck.

“Our goal throughout the game was just continuing to get the puck deep and get it on net if we could which allows us to generate momentum in the game. Every player stepped up tonight against one of the best teams in the league and our effort resulted in that 2-2 tie,” explained  Greenstein.

With the game knotted up at 2-2, minutes draining from the clock, and the possibility that the next goal would determine the victor in the Thursday night matchup, the defense of both teams stepped up once again in crunch time moments. North Penn sophomore, Luke Van Why delivered a clutch poke check to break up a 2 on 1 fastbreak for the Titans with under 30 seconds left in the period and Ebbinghaus saved a breakaway wrist shot as time expired in the game. On the opposite end of the ice, CB South’s senior goaltender, Oscar Levin, lock downed his net and snatched any puck flung at him throughout much of the game with two highlight reel glove saves and a split save off a loose puck in the crease to keep South in the back and forth battle on the ice. It was these key stops and exceptional goaltending that led to the defensive effort of both hockey teams to reign over the offensive pressure in the last nail biting moments of play.

“Just continued to preach that we gotta buy into the things that we have been working on and doing. It’s been a journey for us this year, but we have only just begun. We have 5 or 6 games left and then we are looking at playoffs to come and we are looking to just play our best hockey at the end of the season,” stated Knights head coach, Kevin Vaitis.

The Knights host the Bucks from Central Bucks West Wednesday, the 23rd, at 8:50 at Hatfield Ice Arena for their 9th game of the 18’-19’ season.