In a game of inches and bounces, Penn Manor cashed in on the crucial ones during a Central Pennsylvania Interscholastic Hockey League Viola Division game against Elizabethtown Friday night.
Just 25 seconds after Elizabethtown had tied the game at one, Lukas Kowal's side-angle shot with 11:53 remaining bounced off Bears goaltender Kaden Rhyder and slipped inside the near post, giving the Comets the lead and the momentum that carried them to a 3-1 victory Friday night at Lancaster Ice Rink.
"Like I told the kids in the locker room, good teams find ways to win," Penn Manor coach John Ricci said. "They're not always pretty, and they're not always perfect, but you don't have to beat a team by 10 goals to appreciate a win."
The Comets (3-1-0-0), with players from Penn Manor, Lancaster Catholic, Lancaster Country Day and Solanco, capitalized on a third-period power play opportunity when Penn Manor's Max Jesberger deflected a point shot from Lancaster Catholic's Liam Besecker with 5:42 remaining.
"I give Penn Manor a lot of credit," first-year Elizabethtown coach Scott Cranston said. "They're a great team, well-coached, with a lot of depth. We had an unnecessary penalty there toward the end of the game that hurt us. We've got to be a little smarter than that."
The Bears (1-3-1-0), icing players from Elizabethtown, Donegal and Middletown, ended a 36-game winless drought earlier this season. They trailed 1-0 Friday after Kalvin Kowal swung wide of the defense and fired in a short-handed shot with 11:10 left in the second period. But they bounced back in the third period when Avery Merlo punched in a shot in front of the Penn Manor net with 12:18 left in the third.
"The three things we've talked about are playing hard, playing smart and playing as a team," Cranston said, "I don't think anybody can look at our first five games and say that we're not doing those three things."
Rhyder kept the Bears within striking distance, turning away 27 of the 30 shots he faced.
"Without him," Cranston said, "I don't think we would have been in the game. They had a lot of quality chances. They definitely out-chanced us. For a ninth grader, he played really well."
At the other end, Penn Manor's Cara Jandzio stopped 15 of the 14 shots directed at the Comets goal to help the team pick up its third straight win after a season-opening loss.
"I thought Cara played well in net," Ricci said. "She's come a long way, too. She's playing with a lot of confidence."