Wednesday night's Suburban High School Hockey League American Conference game featured two teams headed in different directions. On one side was Lansdale Catholic, which entered 1-0 with a high-flying offense. On the other side was Archbishop Wood, which is ravaged with injury and was out to a 0-3 start.
The trends would continue for both teams as the Crusaders routed the Vikings, 12-5, with a speedy offensive attack.
The final score might suggest a non-competitive game, but the separation came on a few misfortunes for Wood and a few excellent personal efforts for LC.
"We did play better [than the score shows],' Wood coach Sam Gallen said. "We're struggling right now with a few things.'
LC's fire power came from Anthony Valerio, Michael Longhitano, Andrew Hart and JT Velope who proved all night long that they were the fastest and most skilled players on the ice as the four combined for 11 of the 12 goals and 10 assists.
"Those four guys can always bring it,' LC coach Rocco Sexton said. "They always play very well. Hands down they're the top players on the team.'
The Vikings stuck first just 2:43 into the game as Troy Potts came fresh off the bench and received the puck up at center ice, skated into the zone and scored.
The Crusaders scored the next four goals, two from Valerio and two from Longhitano. Longhitano's first goal was dazzling as he made three Wood defenders whiff on checking attempts and finished with a snap shot that found twine. LC proved at several times throughout the game it was capable of scoring goals in bunches.
"The explosive[ness] comes from the experience,' Sexton said. "We've got guys who can read the ice, who can read and react to what's going on out there. They've got the legs to do it. It makes a big difference being able to have guys that can do that out there.'
Wood had a couple of good opportunities to get back into the game toward the end of the second period when it was shorthanded. Both Potts and Patrick Cavanaugh, who scored Wood's second goal, had breakaways but were unable to convert and LC took advantage as it turned a four-goal Vikings deficit into six.
"There's going to be some shooting drills this week that may involve some push-ups if you hit the pipe or shoot over the net,' Gallen said.
Unfortunately for Wood the missed shorthanded opportunities came at a point in the game where it was playing well, particularly when it came to the checking game as the Vikings started throwing their bodies around to try to counter the LC speed. The biggest physical presence was brought by forward Matt Mandez, who also chipped in a pair of goals on the game as well.
"These guys dug down, recognized they had to be a little more physical and [with] a team like that you can't just lay back and let them walk through you.'
Wood knows there are things it needs to improve on, including fixing some things defensively, however, getting healthy might be as important as anything for the banged up Vikings.
"I don't give excuses, I don't let my players give excuses, but we have a forward playing goalie right now, our goalie's injured,' Gallen said. "Our captain's out with an injury right now, so it's a tough time for the team.'