With the talent disparity in the PIHL Open Division, Indiana has the luxury to tinker here and there at times throughout the season. Thursday night, the plan was to mine the depth of the Indians’ roster to get the role players more game experience.
Given the extra ice time, those players rewarded their coach by making the difference in Indiana’s 10-2 victory over Gateway in a Section 3 game at S&T Bank Arena.
Unheralded forwards Tony Lenzi and Jacob Clark scored two goals each, while goaltender Keldon Spicher got the win in not just his first varsity action, but his first organized ice hockey game.
“Tonight was a good night for depth,” Indiana coach Dom Glavach said.
“We need to get those depth players more accustomed to playing in stress situations, because when you get deep in the playoffs, it’s not a two-line game. You have to be able to run three lines. You have to be able to battle through three 17-minute periods. When it’s physical, it is a long game. Getting reps from (Nathan) Faris, getting reps and goals from Clark and Lenzi, (Ethan) Boyer’s had a nice little run the last three games. Those are things you really can’t measure on a scoresheet. It’s the dressing room and the team that’s really where that pays off.”
Lenzi’s goals, his third and fourth of the season, were huge for the Indians (11-1), giving them a 3-1 lead in the first period after a tenuous first couple minutes. Gateway (4-10) got on the board first, just 34 seconds in.
“It was pretty amazing,” Lenzi said. “For being sort of a grinding player, to get those two big goals, it lifts up the team in the beginning. I owe it pretty much to (Jacob) Miller, because he gave me nice feeds for both goals.”
“Gateway gave us a little bit of a scare the first seven minutes,” Glavach said.
“We just did not come out with the type of heart and passion that we need to win championships, and we were able to battle back from it. You get goals from Tony Lenzi, showing up with two goals in the first period, you could feel the momentum swing on that. By far his best game. We talk about when you get goals from guys that are typically hard-nosed bang guys, they’re worth two on the scoreboard because teams don’t have an answer for it.”
Spicher, a senior who just joined the team this season, finished with 12 saves.
“A lot of my friends are on the team, and we would play street hockey during the summer, and I would always be goalie,” he said. “They kind of brought me into it, telling me to try out.”
Of course, it’s a whole lot different on the ice, especially in live game action.
“It was pretty nerve wracking tonight, especially being at home, being in front of all my friends and family and all that,” he said. “After the first period, I got the hang of it, and it just all came for me — just try to have fun out there, and that’s what I did.”
“He settled in and made some big saves,” Glavach said. “If he doesn’t make those saves when we’re killing penalties, they’re right back in it, 4-2, 4-3, and you’re back in a dogfight.”
The top two forward lines got their points, too. Dominick Glavach scored two goals, Camden Lydick had a goal and three assists, and Jess Bartholow, Luke Lewandowski added a goal each. Matt Swatsworth and Andrew Roth, who fill in on the top-line wings, had two assists each.
Ethan Boyer, also a proud grinder on the Gold Line, had two assists, too.
“All of our lines do what they need to do,” Lenzi said. “Gold Line was on tonight. Clark got two. I got two. Boyer was playing well. He’s grinding, nose dirty.”
Indiana visits Greensburg Central Catholic (2-9) next Thursday, then returns home to face Carrick (9-6) on Thursday, Feb. 6.