READING — Isaac Long took the puck from Cedar Crest teammate Adam Allwein just outside the Twin Valley blue line with the score tied 1-1 and just about seven minutes left in the penultimate game of the Central Pennsylvania's Interscholastic Hockey League's Viola Division playoffs Monday at the Body Zone.
Long cut to his left, swinging wide of the Raiders' defensemen, and lifted a shot into the top-right corner of the net. Todd Griffiths tacked on a goal 1:40 later, and the Falcons vanquished Twin Valley, 3-1.
The Falcons (17-5-0-0), with players from Cedar Crest, Lebanon, Lebanon Catholic and Elco, advance to the Viola Cup championship game — scheduled for 6:15 p.m. Friday at Hersheypark Arena — opposite top-seeded West Shore. After losing their playoff opener to Central York Feb. 7, they fought their way back through the elimination bracket.
"After Central York game that we lost a couple weeks ago," said Long, an Elco student, "we figured we were counted out of the conversation, but we came back. We're pretty excited to see West Shore again."
GOAL, Cedsr Crest. Isaac Long slings a shot into the top-right corner to put the Falcons up 2-1 on Twin Valley with 10:05 left. pic.twitter.com/WfObqlBVRq— Tim Gross (@TimGrossLNP) February 25, 2020
Cedar Crest controlled the run of play through the first two periods, building a 1-0 lead on an Allwein goal from the slot, an area of the ice the Falcons' coaches thought they could exploit against the Twin Valley defense.
"We had them back on their heels pretty much," said Kerry Long, Cedar Crest's head coach. "We had so many opportunities we didn't bury in the first period and a bunch in the second period."
The two goaltenders, Twin Valley's Caleb Dinsdale (25 saves) and Lebanon Catholic's Nolan Harner (24 saves) traded stops at each end to keep their respective teams in the game. The Raiders (16-4-0-1), with players from Twin Valley, Collegium and Tulpehocken, cracked the scoreboard when Luke Mohan deposited a second-chance opportunity in front of the net to tie the game with 1:35 left in the second period.
GOAL, Twin Valley. Cedar Crest's Nolan Harner makes the first two saves before the Raiders' Luke Mohan cleans up in front to tie the game at 1 w/ 1:35 left in the second period. pic.twitter.com/uNaLdojhV3— Tim Gross (@TimGrossLNP) February 25, 2020
"I just said, 'Keep doing what you're doing. You're getting lots of good chances. They're going to start going in.' The next thing you know, we were up 2-1, then 3-1," Kerry Long said.
After Isaac Long's go-ahead goal, the Falcons continued to pressure the Twin Valley end. Cedar Crest's Nolan Hoover gained control of the puck behind the Twin Valley net and slipped it to Lebanon's Todd Griffiths, who bolstered the lead and help the Falcons clinch their second championship-game berth in three seasons.
CPIHL FINAL: Cedar Crest is heading to the Viola Cup final championship game with a 3-1 win over Twin Valley. pic.twitter.com/5fjlCiNmNP— Tim Gross (@TimGrossLNP) February 25, 2020
"The atmosphere is awesome," Kerry Long said of Hersheypark Arena. "You're playing at the Old Barn. You get the VIP treatment. These kids are going to be eating it up."