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Hats off to Pepe in Golden Hawks win

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Is this Council Rock South’s year?

Behind Blaize Pepe’s hat trick – he scored in each period – CR South improved to 3-0 last Wednesday at Hatfield after its 7-3 win over a tough Central Bucks South (1-0-1-1) squad.

“I thought we moved the puck pretty well,” assessed CR South coach Joe Houk. “The beginning of the game was great but then we fell off the wagon and gave (CB South) life.

“We worked hard,” Houk continued. “When you work hard, good things happen. We fell off in the second period but got back to basics in the third.”

CB South struck first two minutes into the game after Ryan Frey punched in a goal through traffic. Pepe answered just 15 seconds later.

“We went down early. The crowd was loud,” said Pepe, who has scored in all three games. “But my shift was out there, we put one in and momentum totally shifted to us. There was no going back from there.”

After the initial stumble, the Golden Hawks regrouped. CR South launched 24 first period shots to CB South’s six. Chase Tovsky lit the lamp nine minutes after Pepe and Gavin Nisenzon scored after a scramble to put CR South up 3-1 after one.

“We were getting pucks deep and working them. We were faster,” pointed out Pepe, who closed last season scoring 12 points in his final five SHSHL games. “They’re a very physical team but when they missed hits, we got odd man rushes and second opportunities.”

“Joe does a great job,” said CB South coach Shaun McGinty. “We came out flat footed. His guys are always going to punch, come hard and they did. They had us sitting back and they won the first period.

“We were able to gather ourselves,” McGinty continued, “but it comes down to: they got a good jump and we couldn’t come back and fight hard enough. We have to give more effort in the defensive zone.”

Pepe’s goal seconds after a faceoff gave CR South a 4-1 lead. “It’s a play we run a lot where I go forward and look back door,” Pepe described. “They had no defenseman coming on me so I ripped it quick and found it top right.”

The Titans cut the lead to 4-3. In a 90-second span, Sean Cutter scored off of a rebound and Matt Crouch added a power-play goal.

CR South goalie Carson Lopez, who saved 32, shut out the Titans in the game’s last 26 minutes. The Golden Hawks added some third period insurance with goals from Peter Pereborow, Jake Weiner and Pepe.

Last season, the Golden Hawks played Alydar to state champion Pennridge’s Affirmed. Pennridge was the lone team to beat CR South last winter. The Golden Hawks’ 3-3 tie in mid-February was the only blemish on the Rams’ record.

CR South returns two of the best players in the SHSHL with Kevin Koles and goalie Lopez. Koles was fourth in 3A in scoring last season (33 points) while Lopez’s five shutouts led the SHSHL.

“It starts the second you wake up on game day,” Lopez said. “Sometimes you can wake up a little foggy and think ‘I might not be ready for this game’ but once you get to the rink, start warming up and take a couple of shots, you know how the game is going to go.”

“We’re looking for the identity. We’re almost there. It usually takes four or five games,” Houk reflected. “We have a young team. We need to put three good periods together instead of two goods and taking one off but all in all we played well. The fundamentals were there. The pucks were going deep. Carson is awesome.”

CB South went winless in its first five games last season before earning a point in eight of its final 10 contests. The Titans return Aydin Thieroff, a 22-point scorer in 2021-2022.

“Dom (Varacallo) is playing great in goal and giving us chances. I think we’re a strong team and we’re deep,” McGinty offered. “It’s not a one or two line system. I’ve never done that. I want four.

“They have a culture started and they are a lot tighter than in the past,” McGinty added. “Hopefully we can enter Thanksgiving .500.”

CR South duels it out with CR North on Wednesday. The North-South game, coupled with the CB East-CB West rivalry the same night, make Thanksgiving Eve a special night in area hockey. The same night, CB South laces them up against North Penn.


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