HATFIELD—Call it a postseason preview. Two of the top teams in the Suburban High School Hockey League shared the stage at Hatfield Ice Thursday night and the evening lived up to expectations. Thomas Boyle scored a power-play goal with 58.5 seconds left in regulation to hand the Knights a 4-3 win in the only regular-season meeting of two teams that figure to be SHSHL and Flyers Cup contenders.
The game-winning goal came when Boyle put in a rebound of Luke Van Why’s slapshot from the left point. “I didn’t think it was going to go in,” Boyle said. “I was so excited I had something left at the end of the game.”
It was a night when special teams play proved decisive. Five of the game’s seven goals, including all four of North Penn’s, came on power plays. Kevin Vena and Adam Brock kept a tight rein on the proceedings by whistling 19 penalties.
“We take as lot of pride in our power play,” said North Penn coach Kevin Vaitis, “getting it in, setting it up. We had four power-play goals so it goers to show you that the work we put in on the power play can be the difference in a game like tonight’s and it was.”
North Penn’s Josh Kaufhold and Neshaminy’s Robert Seewagen traded goals in the first period and that was all the scoring until the third frame.
Neshaminy (7-3, 5-2 in league play)) squandered an opportunity late in the second session when it failed to score during a two-man advantage that last for 1 minute, 41 seconds (two seconds of which carried over into the third period).
“I thought the power play played fairly well except for the five-on-three,” said Neshaminy coach Matt DeMatteo. “The five-on-three we just couldn’t get our rhythm for once reason or other. We weren’t moving the puck well on that and I think that was kind of a turning point for us.”
Tyler Greenstein gave North Penn (6-2, 5-0) the lead for the second time when he scored at the 3:04 mark of the third period. Thomas Gallagher tied the game for Neshaminy 47 seconds later.
Greenstein scored his second goal of the game on a shot from the left point at 5:45 before Neshaminy drew even on Nolan Geria’s effort with help from Matt Bunchinski at 9:45.
The Knights scored their three third-period goals on just four shots; they were outshot 26-15. At the other end, Nick Ebbinghaus recorded 23 saves.
It would not be a surprise to see these two teams meet again when the stakes are higher. “No doubt, we’ll definitely see these guys,” DeMatteo said. “We’ll see them in the playoffs hopefully, we’ll see them in the Flyers Cup.”
Ice Chips—North Penn is ranked fourth in this week’s Class AA Flyers Cup power rankings while Neshaminy is listed fifth. Seewagen’s goal was his 20th of the season.
Neshaminy 1 0 2—3
North Penn 1 0 3—4
First-period goals: Josh Kaufhold (NP) unassisted, 2:39 (pp); Robert Seewagen (N) unassisted, 7:24 (pp).
Third-period goals: Tyler Greenstein (NP) unassisted, 3:01 (pp); Thomas Gallagher (N) from Daniel McColgan, 3:31; Greenstein (NP) from Thomas Boyle, 5:45 (pp); Nolan Geria N) from Matt Buhiiski, 9:04; Boyle (NP) from Greenstein and Luke Van Why, 15:02 (pp).
Shots: Neshaminy 26, North Penn 15; Saves: Brian Nelson (N) 11, Nick Ebbinghaus (NP) 23.