Cunningham, Knights top Patriots in OT


Brandi Marlin

Knights and Patriots trade their share of puck possessions, with extra hockey after regulation being necessary to decide the Wednesday night matchup

WARMINSTER-Greenstein, to Boyle, to Cunningham; a tic-tac-toe connection and the Knights skated away on thin ice with a win on the road, handing Central Bucks East their first lost on the season. It was a game that needed more than just regulation to settle a final score between conference foes still in the early skates of the new season.

Back on the ice, laced up and suited up for their second game of the 2019-2020 season, a date  with the Central Bucks East Patriots(2-0) for the North Penn Knights(0-1) concluded in a 4-3 final score in overtime with the Knights lighting up the lamp and putting an exclamation point on the Wednesday night contest, all being provided off the stick of North Penn junior, Ryan Cunningham.

“Always great to score and win the first game for your team and as a team we were looking pretty well. We are all really good teammates and practice a lot. It allows us to find each other on the ice and allow some momentum to steam roll,”stated Cunningham.

Steam rolling into each other’s offensive zones would be the drill for both teams first and second periods of play, where four goals and loud hits would transition both teams tied at a score of 2-2 into the final period of regulation with hard nosed playing for the next 20 minutes on the ice.

Brandi Marlin
THE PUCK DROPS HERE: The Knights and CB East faceoff at Revolution Ice Garden.

“When we get possession of the puck we want to quickly transition onto the attack, and guys like Tommy Boyle and Luke Van Why back on defense do that, we can transition onto the attack and that’s a big part of the game. It’s how quickly we can make that transition whether it’s for us, or when we turn the puck over. We were fortunate enough tonight where we had a number of chances to do that,” Knight’s Head Coach, Kevin Vaitis said.

Captain, Tyler Greenstein, and forward, Josh Kaufhold, would put North Penn ahead on the scoreboard with back of the net connections in the first period, as Greenstein’s presence in front of the crease would send not one, not two, but three rapid shots at Central Bucks East’s goaltender, Chris McIntyre, with a third shot off the captain’s stick squeaking past the goaltender’s blocker. Greenstein would find himself living up to his captain’s role shortly after that once again with a burst of speed across the neutral zone, blue line and right up on the doorstep of McIntyre in net, where a cross crease dish to Kaufhold would cap of an offensive attack with Kaufhold lighting the lamp and Greenstein tallying up his second point on the night.

“Our main goal was coming out and trying to get pucks deep, getting a feel for the game initially and it was awesome getting the wheels moving again I just had a bunch of shots on net and worked hard to grind [the goal] out. It’s good to be back,” expressed Greenstein.

In response to each of the Knight’s first period goals however would be a Patriot’s answer shortly after. Firing back shots of his own, forward, Sean Gorman, would find a way to squeak one past Knight’s goaltender, Nick Ebbinghaus, on two occasions. On CB East’s 7th and 17th shots on the night, two goals from Gorman would hold the contest at 2 a piece and the physical play of conference foes just kicking up as the score remained close.

“This was a game where we knew we were gonna be battling to the very end in a tough game. I told the guys number one we have to fire a lot of shots on net, and number two we have to look to play physical where we can. Quinn Holt had a nice big check behind the net tonight and offensively we did a number of things well that we wanted with a lot of shots on net and a number of guys contributing on the score sheet,” stated Coach Vaitis.

Just over nine minutes into the third, North Penn would collect their third go ahead goal on the night, this one coming off the stick of an underclassmen, junior, Luke Van Why. Sent from the blue line through a sea of columbia and white in the wheelhouse of CB East’s goal, Van Why’s connection with twine off a wrister propelling McIntyre’s water bottle into the air as well as propelling North Penn’s ice hockey squad back up on the scoreboard for the third time on the night.

Right on que and back once again however to make his name known to the conference square off on the ice and on the stat sheet, Gorman would pick up a loose puck off of his fellow Patriot, Jasen Cluckey, at the end of a 2-on-1 break up from Van Why. As the lone man with a clear lane and  just the net minder to beat, Gorman would deliver a forehand wrister past the glove of Ebbinghaus just under the crossbar, the equalizer to regulation and the final goal put up by the Patriots offense. A score still at 3-3 with OT on the horizon.

After two minutes of fast paced line changes, trades of possession and contact along the boards, Cunningham delivered his finish off of Boyle’s forehand pinpoint feed to the junior, a top shelf missile that would be the decider of the Wednesday night road game for the boys in blue.

We are still trying to get the team chemistry together as it’s our second game, but connecting at the end in OT for Cunningham is the biggest takeaway

— Tyler Greenstein - NPHS senior captain

“On that three on three overtime [Coach Vaitis] was talking to us about possession of the puck and maintaining control of the zone. We were able to win the puck back and give it to Cunningham back door, and it worked out for us. We are still trying to get the team chemistry together as it’s our second game, but connecting at the end in OT for Cunningham is the biggest takeaway [from tonight’s game],”said Greenstein.

“Right before [the game winner] Ryan [Cunnigham] had a break away he just missed at the end of regulation so it was good to see him get that one back and score the game winner for us. We just want to continue to build off of this and get better each game. There are a number of games upcoming over the next two weeks that are gonna be tough games for us and we have a number of guys coming off of last season with some hunger. It all starts tonight and I tell the guys that it’s a 16 week season here where we gotta get better and better and use these games to do what we can to get set to be playing our best hockey at the end of the season,” concluded Coach Vaitis.

The North Penn ice hockey squad is back in action next week in a non-league square off with Council Rock South at Revolution Ice Garden on Wednesday, the 20th, @7:20 p.m.

Be sure to follow @NP Ice Hockey on Twitter for more team and season information on North Penn Knights 2019-2020 Ice Hockey.