In a spirited affair, Annville-Cleona ran over Palmyra 8-1 in Central Pennsylvania Interscholastic Hockey League Tier II action Monday night at Klick-Lewis Arena.
Leading 2-0, the Dutchmen broke open a back-and-forth contest early in the second period with a pair of shorthanded goals. From there, the red-and-white opened the floodgates in front of dueling student sections. A-C bombarded the Cougars' crease throughout, outshooting their hosts 39-26.
"Their goalie was playing really good there at the beginning. We were firing a lot of shots," Annville-Cleona coach Nathan Brightbill said. "We missed the net a couple of times, and he made some pretty good saves. Then, we finally got some rebounds and crashed the net and got some goals."
The senior combination of Cody Brightbill and Andrew Jocham did the most damage, teaming up for a 13-point night. Brightbill registered one goal and six assists, while Jocham added five goals and a helper.
"I had my family here tonight," explained Jocham, a rugged forward. "My little cousin just started playing hockey this year on the JV team, and my uncles were here. I needed to play a good game."
A-C's Tanner Fitting also chipped in with a three-point performance by tallying a goal and two assists. Daulton Kapp and Aaron Struphar contributed with two assists apiece as seven different Dutchmen reached the score sheet.
"They definitely control the puck well," said Palmyra coach Glenn Burkholder. "We were undisciplined, took some penalties and gave them some man-up opportunities, and they capitalized on it."
Following a frantic start, A-C grabbed the lead with 3:37 left in the first period when Jocham buried a Brightbill rebound. The tandem would strike again on a power play with 50.1 ticks left to make it 2-0 after 16 minutes. On the second goal, Kapp delivered a drop pass to Brightbill, who unleashed a wrister, which Jocham again cleaned up.
"(Brightbill's) a heck of a player," said Jocham. "I've played with him for pretty much my whole life. He's got speed and agility."
The two-goal lead was all Dutchmen goalie Cody Keller (25 saves on 26 shots) needed. Even so, his teammates gave him more.
"Cody Keller played a good game," coach Brightbill said. "When he was tested, he made the saves he should've made."
"He had a heck of a game," added Jocham. "Early in the season and at practices sometimes he's not there, but come game time, he's ready to play."
The play got a little chippy in the second period as the clubs combined for 11 penalties. Down a man, Jocham achieved his hat trick at 6:56, depositing his third Brightbill rebound over the shoulder of Cougar keeper Samuel Wasson.
Backup goalie Collin Young then came in to replace Wasson, although it made no difference to the visitors. Brightbill immediately tested the new keeper, sliding a soft shot under the pads of Young for a 4-0 advantage 22 seconds later.
"We weren't patient," explained Burkholder. "I would've just been satisfied if we were in the game and it didn't get blown wide open. Our guys started being too aggressive on the checking and took dumb penalties, and it hurt us."
Dutchman Matthew Reigle extended the lead to 5-0 late in the second with an assist by Robert Fidler. Fitting opened the third by jamming home another puck for a 6-0 cushion.
"There weren't too many bright spots," Burkholder said. "We need to learn from this situation. We have a young team; a lot of guys are first-year players at the varsity level. We need to learn to be more disciplined. That's what it comes down to."
Palmyra (2-2-1) broke up the shutout early in the third period on a Nicholas Stoner-to-Alexander Daley connection. Jocham closed out the contest with two more power-play tallies. Brightbill picked up the primary helpers on both goals, while Kapp and Fitting were credited with secondary assists.
"We had (forward) Cody Brightbill back on defense (tonight)," added coach Brightbill. "He kind of controlled things. He handles the puck good, and you got to get the puck on the net.
"We haven't been playing that good. We just lost a tough one to Penn Manor. That will be a big test for us to see how we respond. The whole schedule coming up over the next couple weeks is tough."
A-C returns to action Wednesday when they host undefeated Penn Manor at 7 p.m. Palmyra skates against Cedar Crest on Friday at 8:45 p.m.