READING — They posed with their parents as camera flashes filled Rink 2 at Body Zone Monday night and green balloons bearing their numbers hovered above the bleachers. But once the puck dropped, Twin Valley's seniors put the festivities behind them and found the form that had carried them toward the top of the Central Pennsylvania Interscholastic Hockey League's Viola Division standings.
Jake Spina and Koby Howat recorded two goals each, as the Raiders defeated Elizabethtown, 5-2, stretching their winning streak to eight games and keeping the pressure on West Shore in the race for first place and the No. 1 seed in the Viola Division playoffs.
"I've been telling these guys it's all up to them where they want to finish," said Twin Valley coach Timothy Meers.
Spina opened the scoring for the Raiders (13-1-0-1) with a short-side shot from the right faceoff circle 8:58 into the first period, punctuating a shift that saw him weave through the Elizabethtown defense. Two minutes later, he slipped a pass to Howat in front of the Bears' crease.
"They grew up together and have been playing together for a while," Meers said of Spina and Howat, who have combined to score 40 goals this season, "so they've got a lot of chemistry going."
GOAL, Twin Valley. Jake Spina makes the move in front, and Koby Howat finishes. Raiders lead E-town 4-1 w/ 11:16 left. pic.twitter.com/895Jtb7uJs— Tim Gross (@TimGrossLNP) January 14, 2020
The Bears (5-7-1-0), with players from Elizabethtown, Donegal and Middletown, entered Monday's game with a two-game winning streak of their own, and victories in three of their last four games. They generated a chance midway through the second period when Carter Lutter sneaked behind the Raiders defense after a turnover. Caleb Dinsdale, Twin Valley's freshman goaltender, threw a shoulder into the shot to deny the partial breakaway.
"Without him," Meers said of Dinsdale, who finished the night with 20 saves, "we would not be in the position we're in. He's a solid goaltender, and over the next couple years, he's going to get better."
At the other end, Elizabethtown freshman Kaden Rhyder kept his team within striking distance, turning away 25 Twin Valley shots, including a one-timer from Spina to Howat midway through the second period. Spina struck again, however, with 2:11 left in the second period, beating Rhyder on a breakaway to extend the lead.
E-town's Kaden Rhyder is keeping the Bears. He denies Twin Valley's close-range chance to prevent the Raiders from adding to their 2-0 lead mid-2nd period. pic.twitter.com/tGksD59uTU— Tim Gross (@TimGrossLNP) January 14, 2020
The Bears rallied in the final minute of the second period, when Caden Nagel punched in a rebound off a shot from CJ Samo. After the Raiders struck twice in the first half of the third period, the Bears answered with a goal from Lutter and a handful of chances in the game's final few minutes.
"Overall, I thought the guys played great tonight," Meers said. "I thought their defensive zone coverage was the best it's been in a long time."
GOAL, Twin Valley. E-town misfires on a chance at the other end, and Jake Spina capitalizes ar the other end, getting behind the defense. His second of the night, and 19th of the season, puts TV up 3-0 w/ 2:11 left in the second period. pic.twitter.com/ZIfp6CAZbL— Tim Gross (@TimGrossLNP) January 14, 2020
In Other Viola Division Games
Hempfield 6, Susquehannock 3: Five goals from Hempfield's Elias Lountzis paced the Black Knights (9-5-0-0), with players from Hempfield and Conestoga Valley, to their third win in their last four games. Lountzis gave Hempfield a 2-0 lead in the first period, and the Black Knights never trailed. A pair of Lountzis short-handed goals turned a 4-2 lead through two periods to a 6-2 advantage. Conestoga Valley's Joshua Griel made 14 saves in the win while Brady Frey made 48 saves for the Warriors (3-9-1-1).
West Shore 6, Penn Manor 1: West Shore (14-1-0-0) maintained sole possession of first place in the division thanks to two goals each from Christian Holtzapple and Tanner Pressley, a goal and three assists from Connor Winski, and 23 saves from Alex Rigling. Penn Manor's Max Jessberger scored the lone goal for the Comets (5-9-0-0), who have players from Penn Manor, Lancaster Catholic, Lancaster Country Day and Solanco, and Penn Manor's Neel Mahapatra made 29 saves in the team's third straight loss.
In the Bears Division
Hershey 5, Manheim Township 4: The Trojans (9-2-1-2) snapped their two-game skid by building a 2-0 lead in the first period and holding off the Blue Streaks (4-10-0-0) until the final buzzer. Karsyn Kehler registered a goal and three assists to lead Hershey offensively, and Ethan Sicher made 14 saves. Manheim Township's AJ Yoder had a goal and two assists, and Jared Gordon made 35 saves.
Monday's Other Scores
Palmyra 9, Susquehanna 0
Central York 2, Dallastown 1
Annville-Cleona 12, Palmyra 4
Central Dauphin vs. Cumberland Valley at Twin Ponds East, 8:20 p.m.
Cedar Crest vs. Central York at York Ice Arena, 8:30 p.m.
Susquehannock vs. Annville-Cleona at Klick Lewis Arena, 8:30 p.m.
Lower Dauphin vs. Manheim Township at Lancaster Ice Rink, 7:15 p.m.
Cumberland Valley vs. Hershey at Klick Lewis Arena, 8:30 p.m.
Palmyra vs. Warwick at Regency Ice Rink, 8:20 p.m.
Elizabethtown vs. Manheim Central at Klick Lewis Arena, 8:30 p.m.
Susquehannock vs. Hempfield at Lancaster Ice Rink, 9 p.m.