PHS needs one win for 10th straight LVSHL championship
Many would have expected Parkland and Freedom, the top two teams all season, to meet in the championship series of the Lehigh Valley Scholastic Hockey League that began on Monday. Parkland held up its side of the deal, but Freedom was nowhere to be found after Northampton upset the Patriots in a one-game playoff game last week.
With Freedom, which entered the postseason unbeaten, out of the equation, No. 2 seeded Parkland became this year’s favorite. And the Trojans took care of business in Game 1.
The Trojans scored first and held on during a late flurry from Northampton to take a 1-0 series lead at Lehigh Valley Ice Rink in a best-of-three games set. Parkland can secure its 10th straight league championship with a win on Wednesday night in Game 2. Results of that game were not available at time of press.
“It feels really good,” said senior Jason Dratch. “We have all of the momentum right now. But they are going to be fighting back. They need to win two games, and we just need win one.”
Dratch helped set up Parkland’s first goal. After a missed shot on goal from Dratch, Matt Zager was there to clean up a loose puck in front of Northampton goalie Noah Smargiassi with 5:19 to play in the first period.
Not even three minutes later, the Trojans struck again to put the Konkrete Kids in an early hole. Koby Staivecki fed an open Dratch, who punched in another goal by Smargiassi, for a 2-0 advantage with less than three minutes left in the opening period.
“I think this was the toughest matchup against them,” Dratch said. “It’s the playoffs. They were here to win, and we were here to win.
“We knew we were up for a challenge here. But we want to make it 10 straight.”
Northampton came out in the second period with something to prove. Its best opportunity to that point came when Alyssa Wruble ripped a shot on goal that just skimmed off the top crossbar.
But nearly four minutes later, Northampton found the break it was looking for. Andrew Hozza snuck a shot off Parkland goalkeeper Vincent Byelick’s glove for a goal with 6:08 left in the period.
“They are hitting us a lot,” Dratch said of the matchup compared to the two regular season meetings. “The pressure is really good for them.”
Staivecki would give Parkland some breathing room minutes later with his 33rd goal of the season, but there was still plenty of time left.
And with 7:30 to play in the third period, Jake Dilger brought the Konkrete Kids within a single goal after a nice rip past Byelick. The Konkrete Kids had plenty of options late and took 50 shots in the game, including a flurry in Parkland’s zone in the final minute after pulling their goalie, but Byelick stood strong in goal.
“I think there were 50 shots and he had 48 saves, so that’s huge,” Dratch said. “It makes it a lot easier to win for us when we have the goaltending to back it up.”