Tigers advance in thriller
The Hollidaysburg hockey players have been slow starters throughout the regular season, so why should the playoffs be any different?
The Golden Tigers fell behind Keystone Oaks by three goals early only to come roaring back for a 6-5 double-overtime victory Sunday in the PIHL Open Division Chiefs Cup quarterfinals.
Trailing 5-2 entering the third period, Hollidaysburg scored three goals in the third period to tie the game then won it with a goal in double overtime to advance to the semifinals against top-seed Ford City at 7:15 p.m. Tuesday at the Belmont Ice Complex in Kittanning.
Macky Power got free along the left boards and chipped a shot past Keystone Oaks netminder Jonathan Mead for the game-winner.
“Macky got a stick on the puck and chipped it up over the goalie’s shoulder,” Hollidaysburg coach Brad Blair said. “I told the team in between the first and second overtimes that it would take a rebound goal or some kind of bounce to win. It wasn’t going to be a thing of beauty.”
Power credited teammate Brent Heaton for starting the play that sent Hollidaysburg home a winner.
“Brent gave me a no-look, behind-the-back pass, and I caught the defenseman pinching in,” Power said. “The puck got a little ahead of me. I slapped at it one-handed and found some room under the blocker.”
Power finished with a hat trick, and Kent Brustle scored twice. Brustle’s goals came 27 seconds apart early in the third periods to begin the Hollidaysburg comeback.
The first came on the power play when Heaton found him open on the left side of the crease. Hollidaysburg won the ensuing, and this time Mitch Gregory found Brustle open in the same spot for another goal.
“The quick goals and penalties really started to frustrated them,” Power said. “When we got to four, we knew we had the momentum. They were getting tired, and we were getting stronger as the game went on.”
Prior to that sequence, Blair had no sense the momentum was ready to swing Hollidaysburg’s way.
“No. Not at all. Those two quick goals really gave us a jump-start,” he said. “We have a history of getting down and fighting back. Counting the two overtimes, we really controlled the second half of the game.”
Power then tied the game with 3:36 remaining in regulation play off an assist from Heaton. He beat Mead stick side with a slapshot from the left circle.
Hollidaysburg controlled the latter part of the game, but it was Keystone Oaks who was in charge early on.
After jumping out to a quick 1-0 lead less than a minute into the game, the Golden Eagles tacked on two more in the final minute of the first period.
Noah Held and Ryan Rosato scored 32 seconds apart to put Keystone Oaks up 3-0 at the end of the period.
Keystone Oaks even helped Hollidaysburg score its first goal of the game. Jon Bilek put a shot on net from the blue line. The rebound kicked off a defenseman’s skate and went in the net, making it a 3-1 game.
Rosato put the Golden Eagles back up by three later in the period, giving him a hat trick in under a period-and-a-half of play.
The two teams then traded goals, and Keystone Oaks went to the second intermission with a 5-2 lead.
That’s all Keystone Oaks would get. Goalie Matt Gregory, who stopped 29 of 34 shots, got stronger as the game went on as well.
“This was Matt Gregory’s first game back since he had a concussion in mid-December. He shut the door the rest of the game,” Blair said.
SCORE BY PERIODS
Keytone Oaks 3 2 0 0 0 -5
Hollidaysburg0 2 3 0 0-6
FIRST PERIOD: KO-Rosato (unassisted), :53; KO-Held (Brestensky, Tomko), 16:19; KO-Rosato (Dulski), 16:51.
SECOND PERIOD: H-Bilek (unassisted), 4:45; KO-Rosato (Conley), 7:04; H-Power (Ritchey), 12:39; KO-Brestensky (Conley), 12:50.
THIRD PERIOD: H-Brustle (Heaton), 2:20; H-Brustle (Mi. Gregory), 2:47; H-Power (Heaton), 13:24.
SECOND OVERTIME: H-Power (unassisted), 4:15.
Goalies: Mead (KO) 36-42; Ma. Gregory (H) 29-34.
Records: Keystone Oaks (13-7-1); Hollidaysburg (15-5-1).