PHS hockey wins first game in playoff series
Momentum was something that the Parkland ice hockey team needed Monday night, more than what they had three nights earlier in a 5-4 win against Northampton in the Lehigh Valley Scholastic Hockey League semifinal.
What the Trojans lacked on Friday, they made up for against the second-place Phillipsburg Stateliners, winning game one of the best of three final, 4-1.
Defense also stepped up for Parkland (19-1-1), including great saves from goal keeper Jordan Lorah (18 saves).
"Our first thing was to not give up a lot of shots," said senior defenseman Morgan Bensinger. "We wanted to keep the shots down. Last game, they (Northampton) had some streaks of momentum which helped them get their goals. We wanted to keep the momentum, and our defense just led to our offense."
In the first period, momentum swung in the Trojans' favor. Eric Johannes hit a slap shot that was knocked down, but Dan Hertia was there for the put back and the early 1-0 lead.
In the second, both teams had a player in the penalty box. This created a lot of open space, which Evan Dratch used to get his team a two-goal lead. He found himself open down the ice on a pass from Ryan Dumbach. Dratch put a move on the Slaters' goalie and scored on the 4-on-4 time.
"We had to take control of the game and get ahead early," Dratch said. "Luckily that's what happened, and our defense saved us."
The Trojans faced a bit of a scare when Ian Semon rushed the net following a saved shot that was hit away by Lorah. Semon knocked the rebound home and the Stateliners trailed 2-1 with 6:20 to go in the second period.
But leading scorer Brett McHale gave Parkland the all-important two-goal advantage back just five minutes later when he took a pass from Dratch and scored on a wide open net.
Phillipsburg had a flurry of opportunities on goal in the third period, nearly doubling its shot total from the first two periods combined. But Lorah came up big each time.
"We know coming into the game that our goalie is strong," said Bensinger. "We look to him to come up big like that, and he does. We use that as confidence just like we are confident in our offense."
Dumbach added a goal in the final few seconds for Parkland, who can clinch another LVSHL title by taking game two on Monday night at the Lehigh Valley Rink in Whitehall.