Streaks, Comets set up Tier 2 showdown BY KEVIN FREEMAN, Sports Writer
For the most part, every team in Tier 2 of the Central Pennsylvania Interscholastic Hockey League played one another twice during the regular season.
Two teams, however, Manheim Township and Penn Manor, met only once, perhaps robbing fans of a second great local matchup.
Wednesday night at the Lancaster Ice Rink, the playoffs resolved that problem.
Manheim Township's 4-1 victory over Palmyra coupled with Penn Manor's 8-4 win over Lampeter-Strasburg advanced the Blue Streaks and Comets to a winner's bracket game at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 22 at the Lancaster Ice Rink, with the winner landing a berth in the Bears Cup championship game.
L-S, suffering its first playoff loss, has a chance to come back via the elimination bracket. The Pioneers will play Ephrata, which stayed alive Wednesday night with a 5-4 overtime victory over Annville-Cleona. The L-S/Ephrata game is scheduled for 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Lancaster Ice Rink.
Meanwhile, in Tier 1, Elizabethtown bowed to Hershey 8-5 but the Bears, too, have just one loss and will try to keep their title hopes alive when they play Mechanicsburg at 6:45 p.m. Wednesday at Twin Ponds West.
In Wednesday night's games, Penn Manor rolled out to a 3-0 lead five and a half minutes into the game, the third goal coming from Tyler Bennett with the Comets playing shorthanded.
It was just the start the Comets wanted, remembering that L-S handed Manor a 5-3 loss a week ago.
"We needed to come out and match their intensity,'' said Matt Gue, who had the hat trick for the Comets.
L-S called its timeout after that goal and got a goal from Josh Wright, who scored 30 seconds later, tipping home Nick Mummau's shot from the point.
After the Comets extended their lead to 4-1, the Pioneers scored two goals between the end of the first period and start of the second to make it a one-goal game at 4-3.
Goalie Owen Finefrock (11 saves) preserved the Comets' lead with some big saves midway through the second and then Gue scored his second to give PM a 5-3 lead.
Early in the third, Penn Manor killed all 1:10 of an L-S two-man advantage. But the Pioneers drew within one on Kyle Martin's goal 3:18 into the period.
"We got too comfortable,'' Gue said. "As soon as you get comfortable, they are going to come back at you full speed. We just had to match that intensity again.''
Gue completed his hat trick to give the Comets a little breathing room midway through the third before Manor got two more goals in the game's final two minutes.
"We needed to play a full 48 minutes and it just wasn't there tonight,'' said L-S coach Russ Hauser, who got two-point games from Martin and Mummau.
After a scoreless first period, Township took a 1-0 lead when Alex Pelletier's shot from the right point ricocheted off a leg and got past Palmyra goalie Sam Wasson. But the Cougars tied the game at 1-1 later in the period when Tim Klaczak converted Collin Daley's pass from behind the net.
From there, the Blue Streaks leaned on goalie Brandon Davis, who shut out the Cougars the rest of the way and made 16 saves in the game.
"Brandon was basically standing on his head tonight,'' said Township coach Kevin Dean.
Davis was particularly strong in the last five minutes of the third period after Township had taken a 3-1 lead on goals by Ethan Beauchamp and Andrew Mahajan. Davis stopped Daley on point blank shots with a seven-second span.
Erik Stager scored an empty-net goal for the Streaks in the final minute.
Ephrata's Steve Zuziak completed a hat trick in grand style, scoring his third goal 1:15 into OT to give the No. 8-seeded Mounts a 5-4 win over No. 4 A-C.
E-town got a pair of goals from Brady Dolan but it wasn't enough against Hershey, which got two goals from Matt Lechleitner.
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