HIGH SCHOOL HOCKEY: INDIANA 4, ALTOONA 3 -- High-powered Indians pass first big test
Indiana and Altoona both answered the bell. Indiana happened to do it one more time.
Coming off two blowout victories to open the season, Indiana responded well to its first test of the season, pulling out a 4-3 victory over Altoona in its PIHL Open Division Section 3 opener Thursday night at S&T Bank Arena.
Indiana (3-0), which had won its first two games by a combined score of 20-3, responded quickly to two Altoona goals in the first period, and the Mountain Lions (2-2) returned the favor in the second before the Indians shut them down in the third.
“Top-to-bottom, a good hockey game. That’s what varsity hockey looks like,” Indiana coach Dom Glavach said.
“I’m happy with the win. It wasn’t the kind of win I wanted to get, but being tested and coming out on top is always a good thing.”
Indiana answered Altoona’s two first-period goals quickly. Camden Lydick scored 1 minute, 10 seconds after the Mountain Lions opened the scoring, and Jess Bartholow’s goal came 38 seconds after Altoona took a 2-1 lead. Indiana took its first lead in the second, on Noah Moody’s wrist shot from the point, and Altoona’s Jacob Russo turned the tables with a tying goal 1:43 later.
Lydick’s second goal came 24 seconds into the third period, and Indiana made that stand as the winner.
“It’s almost like we were playing just good enough to get by, but we realized that’s not going to work the entire season, and we picked it up at the end,” said Lydick, a senior center. “This game makes you open your eyes. We were beating those teams really bad, but this is what we’re going to be facing, and we have to be better.”
“You get up and you start expecting teams to go away,” Glavach said, “and I honestly think there was a little bit of that in the back of our minds. We dominated the first three minutes of play and just figured, well, we’re at home, they’ll go away and we’ll just end up pounding them.”
Instead, Altoona forced the issue, taking the lead twice in the first period, first on the power play and then on a counter attack after Indiana had been buzzing around its offensive zone.
Indiana responded at key times, but it wasn’t particularly easy against Harvey Noel. The Altoona netminder’s glove hand got a workout all game long, and he made 39 saves, keeping the Mountain Lions in the game despite the Indians’ 43-17 advantage in shots.
“Give credit where credit’s due, Altoona’s goaltender did play pretty well,” Glavach said. “Forty-some shots and you only score four, and he made some big saves. There are some goal-scorers on our team, so they had good goaltending.”
Moody’s goal gave Indiana its first lead of the night, 3-2, at the 7:42 mark of the second, before Altoona came right back. After Lydick’s third-period goal, Indiana played lock-down defense, basically, by staying on offense most of the period.
Altoona did get a few chances late. Moody took a kneeing penalty with 2:50 to play, and the Mountain Lions played 6-on-4 for about 30 seconds once they pulled Noel for the extra attacker.
Zane McElhenny got the win in net for Indiana, stopping 10 of 11 shots. Bo Anderson started and stopped 4 of 6 shots.
“At that point, you make a change not because the goaltender’s playing bad,” Glavach said, “just a change of tempo, a change of scenery. You get a little different look in front of the net and you go from there.”
“Altoona’s a pretty good team,” Lydick said. “They came out pretty hard, and we were just used to (blowouts). We beat two teams by 20-3 or something like that, so it was difficult with that transition.”
Indiana visits Open Division newcomer Gateway next Thursday, and returns home to play Greensburg Central Catholic, also a new team to the division, on Dec. 5.