HIGH SCHOOL HOCKEY: Indians suffer first loss, but plan to protest result
It was a strange way to end a game, and not just because Indiana was on the losing end.
In a sudden-death situation, Baldwin’s Mark O’Hanlon scored the game-winning goal late in the third period, lifting the Highlanders over Indiana, 6-5, for the Indians’ first loss of the season in a Pennsylvania Interscholastic Hockey League Open Division hockey game, and a potential Chiefs Cup playoff preview, Thursday night at S&T Bank Arena.
Indiana (8-1) was the last team in the Open Division to suffer a loss this season.
Actually, the Indians think they have a case at still being unbeaten.
PIHL rules set a 1-hour, 50-minute time limit on each game — necessitated by the cost and limited availability of time at rinks league-wide — but play is allowed to continue until the next whistle after the curfew clock expires. Indiana coach Dom Glavach planned to protest the result with the PIHL because he contended the clock was incorrectly stopped during an injury stoppage in the third period, meaning play should have stopped before the winning goal was tallied.
What wasn’t at dispute was that there’s more hockey to be played by the two Northeast Conference heavyweights, quite possibly deep into the playoffs. The teams, both division leaders entering the night, will also meet Friday, Feb. 21, at Baldwin (10-1) to conclude the regular season.
“We didn’t play our best ice hockey of the season,” Glavach said. “We definitely had more in the tank than we showed there. We didn’t play poorly; we just had a couple bounces here, a couple bounces there.
“To drop a game 6-5, if that ends up making its mark in the book, no one likes the taste of a loss, but a loss does one thing for you: It reminds you how sweet it is to win. Take this as whatever, a tie, a loss; you’re not going to settle for it. My words in the locker room were very simple. We didn’t really dwell on it. We said we’re not happy with it, we don’t accept it, and we’re definitely going to get better. Things like this make you better.”
The lead changed hands five times Thursday night, including twice in the third period. Indiana trailed 4-3 after a lackluster second period, but pulled ahead, 5-4, following a power-play goal from defenseman Noah Moody, his second goal of the night, and a marker from center Camden Lydick at the 8:40 mark.
Just 44 seconds later, the Highlanders tied it back up, 5-5, on Max Milan’s goal.
The scoring highlighted the general ups and downs Indiana went through all night.
“That’s just the ebb and flow of high school hockey,” Glavach said. “One guy makes a mistake, and they have the right matchup (to capitalize). We were doing the same thing. We were finding what their weak spots were and putting our best out against them to take advantage of their mistakes.”
Indiana goaltender Zane McElhenny was injured when the puck hit off an unprotected part of his knee around the 5-minute mark of the third. The timekeeper stopped the curfew clock during the delay, and Bo Anderson eventually replaced McElhenny. With 1:48 left on the game clock, O’Hanlon scored and was quickly mobbed by teammates, who knew that ended the game on the spot.
“It was an off-ice timekeeping mistake,” Glavach said. “They afforded more time than what was permitted. The game must complete in 110 minutes. This game went on for 114 minutes, so technically it (should be) over in a tie. … What I’m angry about is, you can’t stop that clock for anything. That clock goes, that is real time. The game must complete in that space. The officials took it upon themselves to stop that clock when my No. 1 (goalie) went down.”
The win was huge for Baldwin, which was 0-5 against Indiana in the two previous seasons since the Indians’ returned to varsity hockey. Indiana knocked the Highlanders out of the Chiefs Cup playoffs two years ago, beating them, 5-3, in the semifinals.
“It’s big for a lot of the boys that have faced this team in the past,” said Baldwin’s first-year coach, Jim Brown. “I know what happened on the scoresheet; they know what happened in their hearts. That is the driving force for some of these boys, especially some of my seniors who got knocked out of the playoffs two years in a row.”
Indiana hadn’t played in three weeks. It had a two-week holiday break, and its first two games after that were postponed due to inclement weather. The Indians still have 11 games left to play before the playoffs start in late February.
“Nothing’s an excuse here; you cut your own path,” Glavach said, “but not playing those two games, really, we’re coming out ice cold. That’s a large part of it, too. The passes were just a little soft; they were a little in front.”
T.J. Petro and Matt Swatsworth also scored goals for Indiana. Moody added an assist for a three-point night. Lydick and Jess Bartholow also had three points in the game.
Brian Dee had three points for Baldwin. The Highlanders were actually without their leading scorer, Dakota Becker, who was away with his travel team.
“It should go a long way for our program,” Brown said of the win. “The rematch should be excellent. They’ve got a good hockey team. I wish them the best of luck, and we’ll see them in a couple weeks in our barn.”