Cedar Crest s Kyle Harris, left, checks Annville-Cleona s Andrew Jocham during Monday night s season-opener at Klick-Lewis Arena.
Cedar Crest s Kyle Harris, left, checks Annville-Cleona s Andrew Jocham during Monday night s season-opener at Klick-Lewis Arena. (LEBANON DAILY NEWS CHARLES GROVE)
PALMYRA - Sometimes, you just want to get the first game out of the way.

That's just the way both the Annville-Cleona and Cedar Crest ice hockey teams felt in the first game of their CPIHL seasons after the Little Dutchmen came away with a 6-3 victory Monday night in front of an electric crowd at Klick-Lewis Arena.

The Little Dutchmen, led by a hat trick from senior defensemen Andrew Jocham, solid play from goalie Victoria ByDeLey and superior shot blocking by the entire defense, open the season 1-0.

"The kids had a lot of energy and they were hyped up by the game, but they didn't play like they should've," said A-C coach Nathan Brightbill after the win. "We started playing a lot better halfway through, but I give a lot of credit to Cedar Crest. They came out and took it to us for the most part the whole game. They made a lot of good plays."

Meanwhile the young Falcons, with just four upperclassmen on their entire roster, start out the season 0-1.

"I was happy with the way that we played," Cedar Crest coach Kirk Hughes said of the play of his young team. "We made a few mistakes in our zone that cost us, and that's the way hockey is. They brought their play at the right time and had opportunities and capitalized."

With the score tied 2-2 late in the second period, the Dutchmen started a power-play opportunity after Cedar Crest's Wesley Wentling was called for a cross-check, and it didn't take it long to convert.

Twenty-two seconds into the advantage, senior Cody Brightbill took a feed below the goal line from fellow senior Tanner Fitting, broke to his left and slammed the puck past freshman goalie Dylan Wampler for the wrap-around goal and a 3-2 lead entering the third period. It's a lead the Little Dutchmen would never relinquish.

Early in the third, the Falcons had an opportunity to get back into it with a 5-on-3 advantage, after penalties to seniors Zachery Hitz and Daulton Kapp were whistled, but the superb A-C penalty kill took care of the 1:18 of 5-on-3 time to set the tone for the rest of the game.

"That was a little difficult (the 5-on-3), we had opportunities," Hughes said of the missed opportunity on the 5-on-3. "We had opportunities and couldn't bury them; that's the name of the game. When you have the opportunity, you bury it."

Just after the penalties expired, the Dutchmen capitalized on an opportunity, albeit in controversial fashion. On a scramble in front of the net, Jocham received credit for the goal, much to the chagrin of the Falcon faithful in attendance who felt Wampler had control of the puck and a whistle should have been blown.

"I asked the refs, and they just told me exactly what happened with it," Hughes said. "I gotta go with it; obviously they're the last decision makers.

Little Dutchman Cody Brightbill races up the ice ahead of Falcon defender Devon Calvert on Monday night at Klick-Lewis Arena.
Little Dutchman Cody Brightbill races up the ice ahead of Falcon defender Devon Calvert on Monday night at Klick-Lewis Arena. (LEBANON DAILY NEWS CHARLES GROVE)
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Nonetheless, the Dutchmen had a 4-2 lead with just over 10 minutes left. Just over three minutes later, Annville-Cleona struck again as senior Robert Fidler converted a turnover right in front of the crease into a three-goal Little Dutchmen lead.

After taking a timeout, the Falcons immediately took the puck down the ice and scored on a textbook one-timer as Kyle Harris set up Paul Marakowski to make it 5-3 with just over seven minutes to play. That score held until Jocham put in an empty-netter to finish his hat trick and seal the victory with 47.3 seconds to play.

"We crashed the net pretty good, got some goals that were sitting there," Brightbill said of his opportunistic offense. "We did a good job tonight."

In the early parts of each period, the Little Dutchmen and Falcons traded goals as Jocham got the first goal of the night with an assist from Eric Bowman just 2:16 into the game. The Falcons answered back at the 5:21 mark when Alec Baum converted a feed from Brandon Kreiser to tie it up.

In the second period, Fitting slammed home a rebound on the doorstep just 2:31 into the period and the Falcons tied it up 1:15 later when Harris took advantage of a turnover and put it just under the bar past ByDeLey.

"It's huge (to get the first game out of the way)," Hughes said. "It felt great to actually get out there. They've been banging heads together with teammates for the last eight weeks. They want to go out and see what's out there. We have a game Wednesday night down in West York and hopefully we'll be down for it."

For Annville-Cleona's Brightbill, he certainly agrees about getting the first game out of the way and ready for action Wednesday.

"It was good to get on the ice and we're looking forward to Wednesday," said Brightbill. "It's nice to get a win. We didn't beat Cedar Crest at all last year in the regular season and it's always a good rivalry. They always have a good team; they have a lot of kids. Sometimes it's ugly, but you're glad you won, but you gotta correct a lot of things for the next game."