WILKES-BARRE ‚?? Nothing in the first period hinted at any indication that Wyoming Valley West would reclaim a Casey Classic championship from Crestwood.
After all, a meaningless holding penalty gave way to one of the Comets‚?? two goals in the period, and the Spartans mustered just three shots on net.
But sometime during the two-minute intermission, everything changed.
Wyoming Valley West scored four straight goals to claim the Casey Classic boys ice hockey title with a 5-3 victory over the Comets. David Roebuck finished with a hat trick and an assist to lead the Spartans to their second consecutive tournament championship.
‚??It‚??s a meaningful win for us,‚?Ě Valley West captain Collin Harrison said. ‚??We lost to them with fractions of a second left two years ago. We were just trying to stay composed out there on the ice. I know this team doesn‚??t give up.‚?Ě
Both the Comets and the Spartans ‚?? both of whom sport undefeated records atop the Northeast Pennsylvania Scholastic Hockey League standings ‚?? started the game on different skates. The Comets came out with a different look and caught the Spartans off guard in the first period. Crestwood‚??s Ryan Gilmartin found the back of the net twice to supply an early 2-0 lead.
Speed and depth benefited the Spartans in the second and third periods. Wyoming Valley West coach Jason Kauwell said he was confident despite the torrid start to the game.
‚??We started off slow,‚?Ě Kauwell said. ‚??Crestwood is not going to go down easy. They were making full-line changes, and we were struggling against that. But I knew that our bench would make the rest of the game more favorable for us. So I wasn‚??t feeling too nervous after two goals. If they got the third one, then we could panic.‚?Ě
The Spartans quickly unraveled the Comets in the second period, posting three goals in just over six minutes. Roebuck rebounded a Mike Leonard shot 54 seconds into the period to give the Spartans a sign of relief. CJ Yakimowicz flicked a shot from near the blue line to tie the game at 2-2 with 11:24 remaining.
‚??We just took our time to getting the puck around to get that first goal,‚?Ě Valley West senior Nick Hogan said. ‚??It came at the point where we really needed it to start the period on a fresh note.‚?Ě
Wyoming Valley West took its first lead at the 9:59 mark in the second period. Crestwood cleared a scrum in front of the net but Josh Tulanowski picked it up before the blue line. Tulanowski launched a shot that caromed off the back wall, allowing Roebuck to dish in his second goal of the game.
That‚??s where the Spartans rested on the gloves of freshman goalkeeper Damian Farrell. Farrell thwarted a potential game-tying John Stewart breakaway shot in the early seconds of the third period. He finished with 20 saves and yielded just one goal in the final two periods.
‚??He started out on tough ice after (Gilmartin‚??s) two goals,‚?Ě Kauwell said. ‚??He found his composure and played his heart out. This is his first varsity season, and it‚??s his first Casey Classic. So that‚??s something to say for him.‚?Ě
After Dustin Mattern shoveled the Spartans‚?? fourth goal on a beautifully executed Roebuck pass to the far side of the net, the Comets picked up momentum on a Ryan Kelly score with 3:31 remaining in the game. Kelly danced his way around two defenders and found the corner of the net to put his team within one.
A tripping penalty gave the Comets an open window to tie the game with 2:49 on the scoreboard. Wyoming Valley West killed the chance, and scored on Roebuck‚??s third goal of the game with 13 seconds remaining.
‚??A lot of that penalty kill should be given credit to Damian,‚?Ě Spartan defenseman Mike Leonard said. ‚??He kept kicking the puck out of harm‚??s way.‚?Ě
|Wyoming Valley West||0||3||2||‚??||5|
First period: 1. CRE, Ryan Gilmartin, 10:45 (PP); 2. CRE, Gilmartin (Matthew Madry), 5:34
Second period: 1. WVW, David Roebuck (Mike Leonard), 15:06; 2. WVW, CJ Yakimowicz, 11:24; 3. WVW, Roebuck (Josh Tulanowski), 9:59
Third period: 1. WVW, Dustin Mattern (Roebuck), 8:30; 2. CRE, Ryan Kelly (Madry), 3:31; 3. WVW, Roebuck (Yakimowicz, Colin Harrison), :13.4 (open net)
Shots On Goal: CRE 23, WVW 23; Saves: CRE 18 (Jonathan Zirnheld), WVW 20 (Damian Farrell)