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Ford City hockey team gets revenge on Hollidaysburg

| Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013, 11:50 p.m.
Ford City's Jesse Valasek fights his way through a double team by Mitchell Gregory (left) and Andrew Vonada during a 6-2 home win over Hollidaysburg on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013.

Because of a 35-minute delay caused by a puck stuck in the Belmont Complex's Zamboni, the Ford City hockey team's much-anticipated Open Class rematch with Hollidaysburg began later than expected.

But once the Sabers started, they seemed unstoppable.

A dominant opening period set the tone for Ford City's 6-2 win over Hollidaysburg, which edged the Sabers, 5-3, earlier this season.

“I wasn't going to play on dirty ice — I would've rescheduled it — and we really wanted to get the game going,” Ford City coach Glen Kilgore said. “Thank God they got it fixed, and we definitely came out jumping.”

When Ford City (11-2-1) visited Hollidaysburg (9-3-1) in November, the Tigers zoomed to a 3-0 lead in the game's first 11 minutes and then spent the rest of the night staving off a Sabers comeback.

In the rematch, it was Ford City that found scoring opportunities early and often. And the Sabers' defense stifled Hollidaysburg enough to eliminate any hope of a comeback.

“I think once we got out of shape, and we were playing out of control, it kind of just snowballed from one thing to another,” Hollidaysburg coach Brad Blair said.

Jesse Valasek scored the host's first, third and fourth goals — all during the first period. Less than six minutes in, the senior forward sped down the right board for a shorthanded breakaway and roofed a backhanded shot.

With 5:15 left in the period, Valasek swept in from the left wing, sneaked his way across the front of the net and beat goaltender Charlie Lafferty to the far side.

And four minutes later, Valasek, posted on the backside of the crease during a five-on-three power play, tapped in an easy one for his hat trick.

Sandwiched between Valasek's first and second goals was a tally by linemate Joe Cippel, who received a breakout pass from Valasek just as he entered Hollidaysburg's zone and then fired a wrist shot over Lafferty's shoulder.

“We were real fired up because we lost to Hollidaysburg but also just seeing our fans. It really helped us out and pumped us up,” Cippel said. “We wanted to give them a show.”

Hollidaysburg cut into Ford City's lead with a goal two minutes into the second period. William Power, the team's leading scorer with 37 goals through 12 games, collected a puck right in front of goaltender Adam Cogley and slipped it just inside the left pipe to make the score 4-1.

But the Sabers answered less than a minute later with a poke-in by Jacob Miller, and they led, 6-1, through two periods.

Ford City allowed several more shots in the rematch than it did in the December meeting — 21 compared to 14 — but with Cogley, who missed the first Hollidaysburg game, in net, the Tigers hardly seemed better off, even when afforded nine power plays, including a five-on-three late in the second period. Cogley finished with 19 saves.

“Adam is an all-star for a reason, and when he's got his head turned on right, he plays the way he did,” Kilgore said. “During that five-on-three, he made three or four extraordinary saves.”

Blair noted that he lacked his first-string goaltender, Matt Gregory, who made 34 saves in the win over Ford City but suffered an injury in mid-December.

“I think the issues with the ice didn't help, either,” Blair said. “The kids were all fired up, and then there was that delay.”

Bill West is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at wwest@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BWest_Trib.

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