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Central Bucks East duel with North Penn ends in draw


Two battles for the Central Bucks East ice hockey team have resulted in ties this season. One of them – against unbeaten league leader Pennridge – was awesome. The other – not so much.

Last Friday’s duel with North Penn at Bucks County Ice Sports Center was the latter.

The Patriots had battled back from a 3-1 first-period deficit to take what they thought was going to be a 6-4 edge with 3:09 remaining in the third period only to have the goal waved off for unknown reasons. CB East already had a goal waved off in the second period.

What’s more, the Knights poked home the game-tying goal less than a minute later and that’s exactly how the hard-scrabble skirmish on the ice played out – a 5-5 draw.

“Two uncalled goals with no explanation. We’re blowing whistles when whistles shouldn’t be blown. And then we’re not calling goals when they should be called,” said an exasperated Patriots head coach Jeff Mitchell moments after the final gun.

“I don’t really have any kind of excuse for them. I don’t really have any kind of words for that crew and the job they did.

“It was pretty brutal.”

Trailing North Penn 3-1, CB East started its comeback bid in the opening minute of the second period with Patriots’ leading scorer Corey Kosick seemingly notching his second goal of the game to draw within a single score. Coming 43 seconds into the period, the goal was waved off by officials, who immediately credited the Knights with a goal tallied by Sam Norton at the other end of the ice just 18 seconds earlier.

Instead of trailing 3-2, all of a sudden CB East faced a 4-1 deficit.

Not to worry, Patriots fans, CB East found a way to turn the battle in its favor.

The next three goals were all tallied by the Patriots and all three on power plays – two in the second period and a game-tying goal by Kosick less than two minutes into the third period.

Four and a half minutes after Kosick deadlocked the score at 4-all, Gavin Widmer put East on top for the first time in the contest, scoring an even-strength goal off a feed from Jaden Young with 11:09 remaining in the third period.

“Everyone’s working together as a team,” stated Mitchell. “We kind of got some lines figured out; it takes time to jell together.

“We’re getting a lot of production from our top guys but we have some underclassmen that are shining too and they’re coming up into the ranks with line one and line two and they’re showing up and helping us be successful.”

Second-period strikes were notched by Young (Widmer assist) and Charlie Keiser (Kosick). With CB East finally on top 5-4, Kyle McIntyre seemingly stuffed a puck past sprawling North Penn goalkeeper Ian McAteer for what would have been a 6-4 Patriots’ lead.

What would have been McIntyre’s first goal of the season was also waved off by officials.

“The momentum was getting ripped out from under us by called off goals for no good reason,” Mitchell stated flatly. “Momentum is 50 percent of the game, if not a hundred (percent).

“It’s got to be even both sides and as long as that (happens), it’s going to turn out in a good favor; the better team wins in most cases.”

CB East won the first duel between the sides Dec. 22 at Hatfield Ice, despite being outshot by the Knights, 34-15. Goalkeeper Cole Breen stopped 33 shots in a 2-1 triumph that favored the Patriots.

“He’s got an ‘A’ on his jersey for a reason,” explained Mitchell. “He’s waited a long time to try and prove himself in this league, playing backup.

“It’s his time to shine and he’s taking advantage of it.”

In that December win over North Penn, Keiser tallied a power-play strike and Alex Wilson registered the game-winning goal with 6:40 remaining in the second period. Wilson also notched a goal in a 2-1 victory over Neshaminy Jan. 24 at Grundy Ice Rink.

“(Alex) is probably our star first-year (player) this year,” stated Mitchell. “He has solidified a spot at center. I’m really looking forward to what him, Braedon Hahn and Evan Asimakopoulos have in store for us next year. They’re probably going to be a top line for us.”

Since getting off to a 5-4 start, CB East is 5-0-2.

The recent string by the Patriots started in East’s first battle back from the Christmas break Jan 4 at Hatfield Ice. That was the other tie recorded by the Pats, though one that was much easier to swallow as it came in a 3-3 eventual draw with Pennridge.

Trailing the Rams 2-1 heading into the third period, Young and Ethan Cenci sandwiched goals for CB East around one by Pennridge. The final strike by Cenci – scored on a power play – came with one tick left in regulation.

“That felt really good,” stated Mitchell. “(Pennridge coach) Mr. (Jeff) Montagne was one of my coaches growing up and it felt really good to go tit-for-tat with him that night.

“We played really well as a team and we didn’t make many mistakes and we capitalized on theirs (mistakes).”

A senior, Kosick leads all scorers for CB East with 23 goals and 10 assists.

“Anytime I can get him out there, I try to get him out there,” said Mitchell. “He’s a great high-caliber player for us.”

Early on in this second battle with North Penn, with his team trailing 2-0, Kosick recorded a goal off a feed from Cenci with 4:08 remaining in the first period. However, James Boyle registered his second power-play goal in the opening frame, putting North Penn on top, 3-1.

Junior defenseman Drew Trask has also come through of late for the Patriots, notching game-winning tallies in recent back-to-back wins over Council Rock North, a 4-3 triumph, and Neshaminy in a 2-1 victory.

Suburban High School Hockey League (SHSHL) playoffs begin Feb. 21. At 10-4-2, CB East currently holds the fourth seed in the SHSHL National Division standings.