Titans stand over Knights in clash for County Line Cup

Knights and Titans meet on the ice for the first time this season in front of a packed house at Hatfield Ice Arena


Brandi Marlin

Titans control puck possession deep in North Penn’s end of the ice

HATFIELD- North Penn’s head coach, Kevin Vaitis, knew coming into the game, that the matchup against the CB South Titans would be the biggest test for the Knights this season. With a packed student section, the rivalry was more alive than ever with fast paced play, hard checks along the boards, open ice tie ups, and the occasional scrum in front of the goalie crease.  At the end of the day however, the Titans stood taller.

“{CB South} took away a lot of our ability to transition to offense by having five guys we had to skate through. They had a good game plan and executed in the neutral zone over us tonight,” stated coach Vaitis.

The Central Bucks South Titans(3-0-1) topped the North Penn Knights (2-1) by a score of 5-1 Wednesday night, preserving their undefeated record in the early weeks of the 2019-20 SHSHL season, and taking home the title as County Line Cup winners.

For the Knights on the ice, a hard lost to Central Bucks foe only marks their first loss of the season, serving as an opportunity to step back and make adjustments in games on the calendar with still plenty of hockey to play till the postseason. This notch in the L column also serves as an spark for the Knights next date with the boys in black and blue on the ice.

“Deflections and bounces their way are gonna happen, but one thing we focus on is forcing guys out of the crease which happens frequently with a team like this that likes to play rough and battle, but as long as we are playing strong offensively and defensively at the same time, it will be a different kind of game next time,” expressed Knight’s goaltender, Nick Ebbinghaus.

The physical play and battle for possession along the boards and in open ice made up the style of play all of those in attendance love to see in a rivalry game.

After the Titans captain, Colin Abbonizio, laid on the night first booming hit of the contest on Knights captain, Tyler Greenstein, the physical play ramped up and from then on out, it did not disappoint.

“[The atmosphere] was awesome and the student section for both teams were loud [after big hits]. They definitely help us play better and if they show out again, that would be awesome,” said Tyler Greenstein.

Those big hits on the ice and victories in battles for puck possession, translated into the first marks on the scoreboard of the night. Following a scoreless first period with only two shots put up by the Knights offense, CB South found their groove and found it fast once the puck dropped to commence play in the second period.

Big hits and the flares of a rivalry game made up most of the play in the Wednesday night square off

Within thirty five seconds of each other at the fourteen minute mark in the second period, the Titans broke the tie score and displayed a shooting barrage on Ebbinghaus and the Knights defense. Thirteen shots and back of the net connections from Stephen McMillian and Matt Milanesi tallied up by the Titans offensive attack kicked off CB South’s dominance in the game from there on out with a defensive effort and goal keeper in between the posts that showed no efforts of letting a Knights shot seep its way past the goal line.

“Their defense and goaltending were pretty good, but we had a lot of opportunities that we didn’t capitalize on. {Mason Moyer} played well in net against us tonight and we were just unable to score on those rebound attempts when we had them which cost us the game.” said Knights assistant captain, Josh Kaufhold.

The Titan’s reinforced their 2-0 second period lead with one more connection with twine before entering the third period and it was their captain getting in on the shooting parade as Abbonozio found a way to tap home a loose puck in traffic through North Penn defensemen’s skates, picking up his first goal of the night and sixth on the season.

The final period of play had no let down of heavy checking and battle for puck control on both ends of the ice. And the offensive attack of CB South didn’t skip a beat either. Another scrum in front of the net allowed the stick of Dominic Patrone to trickle in the puck through the crease, and into the net for a 4-0 Titan’s lead with 4:19 remaining in the square off.

The final four minutes of play in the County Line Cup clash held the Knights first appearance on the scoreboard, a connection that had been sniffed out and batted away by the Titan’s defense throughout all of the early measures of the contest.

“We usually try and work a back door pass and on that occasion it found its way through and I was able to put a shot up. It didn’t make it through the first time, but I was able to jam it through the second time and it found its way in,” stated Greenstein.

Kaufhold’s cross ice feed for a Greenstein one-timer on a North Penn power play brought the deficit within 3. This idea of a late game comeback for the Knight’s however was quickly squashed as the Titan’s allowed only one more additional shot on net. A slap shot of the stick of Milanesi, with time expiring, tallied up the young man’s second goal and team’s fifth goal on the night in the County Line Cup contest.  There will be a rematch as the two teams will play again on February 20th, the final game of the regular season and a game that will serve as a shot at revenge for the North Penn ice hockey squad.

“I said to the guys that there are a lot of good teams in the league and the chances of us on the table of going undefeated were probably slim. Use this as a lost, but also something we can learn from.

“We don’t like the feeling we have right now and we have to go out there with more intensity. We gotta get mad, we gotta get angry, and we are gonna look to do that next week against Pennsbury,

— Head Coach, Kevin Vaitis

“We don’t like the feeling we have right now and we have to go out there with more intensity. We gotta get mad, we gotta get angry, and we are gonna look to do that next week against Pennsbury,”concluded coach Vaitis.

The Knights are back on the ice in a square off with the Falcons of Pennsbury next Thursday, the 5th, with puck drop set for 7:20 pm at Grundy Ice Arena. 

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