Hockey twinbill entertains fans at Belmont complex
It was quite the hockey night in Armstrong County.
The first varsity doubleheader at the new-look Belmont Ice Complex gave the home fans plenty to cheer about, as Freeport came back against Westmont Hilltop to earn a 2-2 tie in the early game before Armstrong collected the first win in its program's history, 8-1, over Moon in the nightcap Thursday.
‘Hawks make history
After two close losses to start the season, Armstrong's newly merged hockey program burst into the win column in a big way.
The Riverhawks (1-2-0) scored six goals — four by Christian Miller — in a span of 5:46 to blow open a Class AA game that was tied 1-1 in the waning moments of the second period. Cody Toy, Nick Long, David Contrael and Luke Gross also scored for Armstrong, while Austin Murphy scored the only goal for Moon (0-4-0).
“We ran a tight team game tonight. We stuck to our game plan,” Armstrong coach Doug Anthony said. “We dumped the puck in and chased. We had an aggressive forecheck, and I kept telling them when it was 1-1, if we keep doing it, they'll make a mistake and we'll capitalize.”
The goals by Toy and Murphy were the only scores of the first period, and the 1-1 score lasted until 2:34 remained in the second. That was when Long found space between the circles, and Miller found him with a centering pass to put the Hawks ahead.
“We had a lot of opportunities that we missed on, and probably three or four off that same play,” Anthony said. “But once we got that one, the floodgates opened, and they had fun out there tonight. That was a good team win.”
Before the second period ended, Miller scored for a 3-1 lead on a pass from behind the net by Hunter Grafton, who had five assists. Hawks goalie Taylor Smouse made 19 saves to collect his first varsity win.
Freeport finishes level
Freeport vs. Westmont Hilltop is looking like one of the most even matchups in Class A after playing to their second tie in eight days.
Stone Haberstroh scored the tying goal for Freeport (0-0-2) on a short-handed break with 14 minutes left, and Thomas Intrieri had a first-period goal for the Yellowjackets. Adam McQuillan and Ian Campbell scored in the first period for Westmont (0-1-2).
“We needed that goal, for sure,” Freeport coach Dave Hepler said. “(Haberstroh) made a nice move, almost got dragged down, but stayed on his feet and made a nice move on the goalie.”
Freeport had the edge in shots, 23-21, but Hepler felt his team was even more in command, especially late in the contest.
“Our counter had the shots at 32-21, and I thought we dominated for most of the third period,” Hepler said. “Their goalie kept the puck out of the net, but I thought we had more of the play than they did.”