Ephrata icers split pair of key games
By: JOHN CRAWFORD Review Correspondent, Staff Writer
The Ephrata ice hockey team split a pair of hockey games over the weekend by beating Annville-Cleona 5-4 on Friday but losing to Penn Manor 7-5 on Monday.
The games put the Mounts’ at 6-7-2 and in sixth place in the CPIHL Tier 2 standings. The first eight teams qualify for the playoffs.
Steven Zuziak opened the Annville game scoring on a takeaway and break for the unassisted goal with 10:56 left in the first period.
"He’s an exciting player to watch," said Coach Kevin Davis of Zuziak. "He did really well tonight. If he gets alone down in there, he’s good at picking corners and putting the puck around the goalie."
Trevor Seibel staked the Mounts to a 2-0 lead with 6:31 left in the first when he converted Chase Weik’s pass from behind the net. Josh Buohl picked up the second assist.
Against Lampeter-Strasburg on January 14, the Mounts staked out a 2-0 list in the first period but ended up giving back the goals en route to an 8-4 loss, and the Dutchmen came back like the Pioneers to tie the game before the end of the first. Unlike the previous game, the Mounts maintained their composure and regained the lead at 3-2 when Zuziak picked up his second of four goals on the evening. Josh Buohl brought the puck up ice and passed it to Zuziak in the slot, where he shot it home.
Cody Brightbill scored with 3:20 left in the period and the period ended in the three-all tie.
Zuziak put the Mounts back in front when he scored his third goal of the game 2:47 into the second. Carson Good and Weik picked up the assist.
Ephrata nearly nursed the 4-3 lead into third but Tanner Fitting batted home a cross ice pass with eight seconds left in the period.
The game remained tied until late in the third period when Weik and Zuziak combined to put the Mounts ahead on Zuziak’s fourth goal with 2:20 remaining.
"Chase Weik had it in the middle of our zone so I broke," recalled Zuziak. "Chase saw me and gave me a perfect pass. I got a good move on the goalie and put it in. Since it was 4-4, I was definitely looking to get a goal. I was just looking to get any way we could get it. When I had the opportunity, I had to take it."
For Davis, the win was significant for the improvement the team showed over their previous game.
"Last week’s game against L-S, we started out just the same," noted Davis. "We played the whole game tonight. Tonight, we did a real good job defensively. We held them to 22 shots. For that team to be held to 22 shots is pretty incredible. More importantly, we played as a unit tonight."
A significant reason the Mounts held AC to just 22 shots was the ability to control rebounds of goalie Logan Pogwist.
"He did a (heck) of a job for us tonight," Davis said. "We told him he had to focus more on stopping the puck and then dropping it. Control it (and) don’t let the rebounds go. He did that good all night tonight. If that puck hit him in the chest, it stayed there. That’s what he needs to do."
To hear Pogwist explain it, controlling the rebounds was a simple matter.
"(I was) just trying to stay focused and play the game that I know I can play," he said. I think I did that very well or I would push (the rebounds) to the side."
For most of the season, Penn Manor, with a record of 13-1-2 going into Monday’s game, had pushed aside most of their competition with a tier high 122 goals. The Mounts were able to stay with the Comets for most of the game.
Like the Mounts in their previous two games, Penn Manor opened a 2-0 lead. Ryan Pryzbylkowski set up Cory Cummings’ goal when he walked in from the point and wound up for the slap shot; however, he ended pushing the puck over to Cummings to send the puck home.
Cummings scored the second goal of the game with 3:48 left in the first when he sent home a hard shot from in close to the net.
Weik began the comeback after Trevor Seibel saved the puck from going out of the zone and sent it to Zuziak. He got the puck to Weik for the goal.
The Mounts opened the second with several chances, including a shot from Trevor Boyer that may have gone in the net with 12:02 left. The bad break was quickly followed by a lucky one when Seibel was credited with an unassisted goal at 11:41 when Owen Finefrock misplayed the puck that ended up in the net.
Penn Manor did not take long to regain the lead and expand it when Matthew Gue finished a series of passes from Tyler Bennet and Kevin Reinhart for a goal at 6:01 into the period and then scored unassisted just a minute later. Both goals were shorthanded.
Down 4-2, the Mounts began another comeback to tie the game before the end of the period. Zuziak picked a goal when he converted Seibel’s pass to the right of the net into the goal. Weik picked up the assist.
Zuziak then completed the comeback with 46 seconds left in the second. Weik and Seibel again picked up the assists.
The third period remained tied until Penn Manor scored two quick goals with 9:52 and 8:55 left in the game. Trailing again by two, Buohl gave the Mounts a chance with 5:34 left."We were 4 on 4 as each team had a person in the (penalty box)" said Buohl. "I was on the boards when Chase Weik pulled it back. I just saw an opening and shot it. I think it went to the high glove side."
The Mounts pulled Pogwist to gain the tying goal but were not able do so. Instead, Penn Manor iced the game with an empty net goal.
Despite the loss, the Mounts are playing to secure a better playoff seeding.
"It’s a year where have a say in our seeding rather than just whether we are making (the playoffs) or not. We want to get the best seeding we can," said Buohl. More HOCKEY, page B-4