The Elmira Soaring Eagles (6-2) scored three power-play goals to defeat the Hobart Statesmen (6-3) by a 4-3 score to remain undefeated atop the ECAC West league standings.
The Soaring Eagles were led by their upperclassmen on the scoreboard tonight as all the goals were scored by juniors or seniors.
â€œLike every game we play with Hobart lately, it was a hard fought game right to the end,â€ said Elmira coach Tim Ceglarski. â€œDavid McKenna competed hard, had a nice goal on the power play and it was nice to see Rusty [Masters] get going. The veteran guys stepped up quite well. It was great to see our leaders get to the forefront.â€
The first period was quickly played as both teams jockeyed for an advantage. Elmira came close to gaining the upper hand at 13:20 when Rick Schrank took a point blank one-timer from the right side of the slot. But Hobart netminder Keith Longo slid across the crease in time to block the puck with his body and direct it harmlessly into the corner.
The Soaring Eagles got into penalty trouble late in the period, taking a pair of penalties just eight seconds apart with less than a minute to go. It was just the opening that Hobart was waiting for and the Statesmen scored at 19:41 while on the 5-on-3 power play.
Jason Merritt collected a bouncing puck at the left point, carried it into the center of the slot and ripped a wrist shot over the blocker of Elmira goaltender Casey Tuttle to give Hobart the 1-0 lead at the end of the first period.
After a tightly played first period, scoring erupted during the opening ten minutes of the second. Elmira started the fireworks at 4:06 when Rusty Masters pounced on a rebound to score on the power play.
Hobart quickly took two more penalties to give Elmira a 5-on-3 power play, but it was Hobart who scored next to take its second lead of the game. Matthew Wallace jumped on a cross ice pass at the Hobart blue line and took off down the ice. He lost an edge just as he went to shoot but still managed to get the puck past Tuttle for the shorthanded score at 5:49 while Hobart was down two men.
All was not lost for the Soaring Eagles power play as Elmira tied the game at 2-2 at 6:06. Karl Linden passed the puck from the right point diagonally across the slot to David McKenna who buried the one timer.
â€œAfter we gave up that shorthanded goal, it was a great answer by our guys to come right back and not only tie it up but go ahead right after that,â€ said Ceglarski.
The quarter was in Elmiraâ€™s pocket for the referee as two quick penalties gave Hobart a 5-on-3 power play of its own. This time the Soaring Eagles penalty killers held firm.
Just as the second penalty expired, Albert Mitchell came off the Elmira bench, picked up a long bomb pass from Kyle Branson, carried it in to the zone alone and steered it around Longo for the goal at 9:39.
â€œWe came out, held them a little bit, but got off the emotional track,â€ said Hobart coach Mark Taylor. â€œYou have to come out, work your butt off, and keep your emotions in check. Penalties killed us.â€
Play settled down after a blistering first ten minutes of the period and Elmira finished the period holding on to its slim lead.
With 22 seconds remaining in the second period, a bit of a scuffle broke out behind the Elmira net. As players were separated, Hobart forward Matthew Wallace appeared to move his head towards an Elmira player like a head butt, except he never made contact. The referees thought he got close enough, sending him off the ice for a major penalty and game disqualification.
Elmira extended its lead with another power play goal 3:39 into the third period before Wallaceâ€™s major penalty expired. McKenna one-timed a pass from Masters into the back of the net for the goal off a nice passing play.
Michael Steiner pulled it close for Hobart with just 14.4 ticks remaining on the clock. The Statesmen pulled goaltender Longo with just over a minute remaining and were skating 6-on-4 due to an Elmira penalty. Steiner wound a shot from the top of the slot through a crowd to narrow the Soaring Eagle lead to 4-3.