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Shorthanded Connellsville hockey shut out

| Monday, Nov. 4, 2013, 10:42 p.m.
Lori Padilla | For the Daily Courier
Connellsville's James Shaw skates with the puck during a PIHL Open Division game against Altoona on Monday, Nov. 4, 2013, at the Ice Mine in Leisenring.

The Connellsville hockey team's second game of the season was strikingly similar to its first, and that's not good for the Falcons.

In their season opener last week, the Falcons were bombarded with shots by Ringgold as the Rams skated to a 7-0 victory. On Monday, the venue changed, and so did the opponent, but the story was basically the same as Altoona ruined the Falcons' home opener at the Ice Mine by putting 64 shots on goal and dominating possession of the puck and attack zone time in a 7-0 PIHL Open Division win.

“We had one more skater,” Connellsville coach Josh Snyder said, noting that in the team's first game, Connellsville was limited to just eight skaters. The Falcons had nine against Altoona.

Unfortunately for Connellsville (0-2), the extra set of legs didn't help much.

“We took some bad penalties and that didn't help,” Snyder said. “But we know the things we need to work on and we're still upbeat.”

The Mountain Lions scored three goals in the first, then followed up with two more in the second and two in the third. Jacob Russo hit the back of the net four times. Matthew Dalto, Shane Burgmeier and Joseph Dombrowski also scored for Altoona (2-0). Dalto finished with three points, and Camrin Yoder had two assists.

“We're just playing as a team,” Altoona coach Donald Burgmeier said. “So far this season, that's what we have done well.”

The one positive so far for Connellsville has been the play of netminder Thomas Clark. Clark made 68 saves against Ringgold, and followed up with a 57-save effort against Altoona. Several of those saves were painful for the senior goalie, including one early that rattled off his mask.

“He got his bell rung, but he said he was OK, and he made a lot of big saves again for us,” Snyder said.

But even Snyder's strong performance wasn't enough to withstand Altoona's consistent attack. The Mountain Lions spent a vast majority of the game in Connellsville's end of the ice. The Falcons managed just seven shots, and Altoona goalie Catcher Cumming stopped them all to record the shutout.

For Altoona, the key was taking advantage of a Connellsville team struggling with numbers and still trying to find its way.

“We've been there,” Donald Burgmeier said. “I understand what that's like and it's tough. It's tough, especially when you only have nine skaters. But I thought they played well and their goalie is really good.”

Both teams are back in action Thursday. Connellsville travels to Hempfield, and Altoona hosts Baldwin.

Jason Black is the local sports editor of the Daily Courier. He can be reached at jblack@tribweb.com.

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