Frazier's penalty kill spearheads win over Connellsville
It has not been an easy season for the Connellsville and Frazier hockey teams. Coming into Monday's PIHL Open Division game at the Ice Mine, the Falcons still were searching for their first victory of the season, while the Commodores, playing in their inaugural season, were looking to snap an eight-game losing skid.
The game was close throughout, but the Commodores used a tremendous penalty-killing effort in the third period to earn a 7-3 victory. Frazier killed off six Connellsville power plays in the third period, including a stretch in which the Commodores had four players in the box, resulting in back-to-back two-man advantages for the Falcons.
“The PK was unreal,” Frazier coach Matt Olbrys said. “It's a group of guys that have worked hard all year, and they came up big for us.”
Frazier killed eight of nine penalties in the game and scored a pair of shorthanded goals.
Edward Kibe, Brian Gregg and Jacob Boucher each scored a pair of goals for the Commodores (3-13). Kibe finished with a four-point night, and Gregg had three points. Cullen McGinnis had two assists. Dean Corsaro scored a goal, and Ryan Sisley recorded an assist.
Gregg got the scoring started midway through the first when he beat Connellsville goalie Thomas Clark after a Connellsville turnover. However, the Falcons (0-12) tied it when Owen Hardy got control of a loose puck and beat Noah Santo up high. Kody Bigley picked up an assist on the tying goal.
Kibe and Gregg each scored to give Frazier a 3-1 lead, with Gregg's goal coming on a penalty kill. Connellsville responded to make it a 3-2 game when Jonathan Herchko scored on the power play late in the period. Herchko had a two-point game.
In the second, the teams traded goals. Connellsville tied the score on a goal by Jacob Miller, but Kibe netted a goal on a rebound to give the Commodores a 4-3 lead heading to the third.
Trailing by one in the final period, the Falcons were given chance after chance to tie the game, but Frazier's penalty killing was dominant. Despite having six power plays in the third, Connellsville managed just five shots against Santo.
“The guys have to make better passes,” Connellsville coach Mike Pleva said. “We didn't pass well, and Noah is a good goalie. It seemed like nobody wanted to go to the dirty areas.
“It was our game to win, but we didn't take it to them. We didn't score on the five-on-threes, and that's the game right there.”
Boucher helped seal the win with Frazier's second shorthanded tally of the game to make it 5-3. In the closing minutes, Boucher tallied his second of the game before Corsaro completed the scoring with the game's final goal.
For the Falcons, it was another loss, but Pleva did note some overall improvement in team play and pointed out that Connellsville's best player was Clark. The Connellsville goalie stopped 33 of 40 shots he faced.
Santo made 19 saves on 22 shots to earn the win for Frazier.
“Our goalie played tough,” Olbrys said. “He really battled. It's huge to break the (losing) streak because you want the team to believe in what you are teaching and it's tough when you don't get the results.”
Jason Black is the Local Sports Editor of the Daily Courier. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.