YORK — Penn Manor's Jake Jesberger had retreated to the neutral zone, gearing up for one more defensive stand at York Ice Arena during a tense 3-on-3 overtime period that decided the Central Pennsylvania Interscholastic Hockey League's all-star game Wednesday night.
But when his linemates had other plans.
Cedar Crest's Christian Hibshman forced a turnover and a shot, and Lower Dauphin's Jeff Gross buried the rebound at 4:29 of the overtime period to punctuate a 9-8 win for the CPIHL's American all-star team — including Jesberger and four other Lancaster County players — over the National all-star team.
"That," Jesberger said, "was fun. That's exactly what I wanted to happen."
Cedar Crest's Christian Hibshman comes up with the steal and the shot, and Lower Dauphin's Jeff Gross buries the rebound to give the American all-star team a 9-8 win in OT. pic.twitter.com/1Ap01NmF1x— Tim Gross (@TimGrossLNP) January 31, 2019
Among the victorious American Team players that flocked to Gross to celebrate his game-winning goal were Warwick's Tai Stern and Jon Bergh, Hempfield goaltender Max Aukamp and Lancaster Country Day's Jack Kiely, Jesberger's teammate with the mixed-school Comet hockey club.
The National Team's roster included Manheim Township's Jared Barnett and Hunter Neiss, Hempfield's Chris Grubb, Conestoga Valley's Charles Braught, Manheim Central's Dan Pelletier and Brandyn Musser, Elizabethtown's Chris Haldeman and Erik Webb, and Warwick goaltender Logan Hann. The players were divided into the two teams via that league's Jan. 6 all-star draft.
CPIHL all-star game: Boxscore
"We've got a great team over at Penn Manor," Kiely said, "but this is a different animal. This is all the guys that you know are top of the league, top of the team. Guys that go out on a nightly basis and put up points. It's nice to be out there to be able to compete with them and look good against them, too."
Kiely scored a goal 2:55 into the second period to cut into what had been a two-goal National Team lead. Bergh and Stern wrenched the puck loose along the boards to give him an opening.
"I whiffed on the first couple of that shifts," Kiely said. "I walked in. I picked it up and saw the opening right above the glove, and my shot went in."
Hann (five saves) and Aukamp (eight saves) both played in the second period. They both allowed four goals, as the game reached an offensive boil after simmering for most of the first period.
Hempfield's Max Aukamp, who had an assist this period, gets a piece of this chance from Manheim Township's Hunter Neiss. The National Team leads the CPIHL ASG, 6-5, late in the second period. pic.twitter.com/mwqeuGVSxS— Tim Gross (@TimGrossLNP) January 31, 2019
"It was a tough start going into it," said Aukamp, who also picked up an assist, "but I started getting used to it, and I stopped some shots."
Neiss led Lancaster County's all-stars with one goal and two assists, playing on a line with Central Dauphin Twins Brenden Yingling (three goals, two assists) and Gavin Yingling (two assists) that powered the National Team's offense.
"Brenden just finds a way," Neiss said, "to get into open space and find people back-door. Gavin's a solid defenseman. He moves the puck well."
GOAL, National Team. They were foes Friday night, but Central Dauphin's Gavin Yingling sets up Manheim Township's Hunter Neiss for a goal with 58 seconds left in the first. National takes a 2-1 lead. pic.twitter.com/64eIrdSDUe— Tim Gross (@TimGrossLNP) January 31, 2019
Pelletier also tallied a tap-in goal 10 minutes into the game that erased the American Team's 1-0 lead. The American Team didn't take another lead until the third period, but two goals and two assists from Cumberland Valley's Jonathan Wescoe helped the team rally.
"It's awesome," Aukamp said of the game. "It's the best of the best in the league. It's fast-paced. I enjoyed it."