Quick start sparks Freeport to win over Deer Lakes
One week ago, Freeport trailed Deer Lakes by two goals through two periods in a PIHL Class A clash but rallied for a two-goal win.
Perhaps with that scare still in mind, the Yellowjackets wasted no time taking care of business Thursday night at Belmont Ice Complex.
Freeport scored twice in the first minute and 19 seconds of the game, padded the lead to 8-0 by the second period and coasted to a 9-3 victory over the Lancers.
Brendon Zack supplied the initial goal just 41 seconds in before Cole Hepler made it 2-0 only 38 seconds later. Thomas Intrieri and Michael Frazetta also found the back of the net during the first frame to provide the Yellowjackets (13-3-2) with a 4-0 cushion by period's end, paving the way to Freeport's 12th straight win.
“That's what we wanted to get done tonight. We're looking to be in playoff mode,” Freeport coach Dave Hepler said. “Deer Lakes has played us tough the last couple of times. That's what we're trying to emphasize to everyone in the locker room. You have to go out and play like it's a playoff game because we're trying to get into that mode.”
Deer Lakes (9-11) hoped for a solid start, especially without injured defensemen Jonathan Merlo and Douglas Francioni.
“It was very important because we're down our two top defensemen, but it didn't happen,” Deer Lakes coach Todd Luniewski said. “They scored right out of the gate, which made it even more difficult for us.”
It didn't get any easier in the second period for the Lancers.
Intrieri tallied his second goal of the game and a slap shot from Ethan Waddell swelled Freeport's advantage, before Stone Haberstroh scored a 4-on-4 goal and Hepler sniped a one-timer into the net during a 5-on-3 power play for an 8-0 lead. Eric Waddell added Freeport's final goal in the third, becoming the seventh Yellowjacket to score and 12th to have at least one point.
Hepler led Freeport with two goals and two assists. Frazetta, Haberstroh and Zack had three points apiece.
Coach Hepler was pleased with the balanced offensive attack.
“It's good to see scoring from everywhere, that way they can't concentrate on any one line or any one person,” he said. “We're just trying to get everyone playing the same and keeping the intensity.”
Mitchell Rupprecht was a bright spot for Deer Lakes. He broke up the shutout bid late in the second period and added two goals in the third to complete a hat trick.
Dominic DiGiacobbe made 14 saves to earn the victory for Freeport. Deer Lakes goalie Jonathan Lang had 25 saves.
Jason Orfao is a freelance writer.