After the first period of Thursday night's Suburban High School Hockey League game between William Tennent and Lower Moreland, it looked as if the Panthers were going to walk over the Lions as Tennent entered the first intermission with a 3-1 lead and a 14-4 shots advantage.
"We were taking the game over,' Tennent coach Nick D'Aurizio said. "However, I looked down at Lower Moreland and I knew it was going to be a good hockey team, I didn't think it would be one of those games where we just kind of take over.'
Lower Moreland pushed back in the second period with a strong defensive effort and some clutch goaltending from Eric Spahr. The Lions carried a 4-3 lead entering the final frame. In the end, 48 minutes would not be enough to separate the two teams as they skated to a 6-6 tie.
"I'm speechless pretty much, the boys reached down real deep and they came back and played hard,' Lower Moreland coach Alan Brason said.
The Lions started setting the tone on defense by trapping the Panthers offense and getting physical with the bigger William Tennent team.
"If you keep throwing the body they're going to start getting scared,' Lower Moreland defenseman Matt Gallagher said. "Then they turn the puck over, keep throwing the body, we kept getting the puck and taking it out of our zone.'
Leading the way offensively for Lions was Max Hunn and Tyler Kraft. Kraft found some skating room through center ice, space that was not available to many skaters, while Hunn used his big body to do the dirty work around the net and in the corners.
"That's pretty much my role, trying to get guys where they're supposed to be, bring the puck up, be kind of like the quarterback,' Kraft said.
Hunn and Kraft both scored two goals apiece, with Kraft netting the game-tying goal. Kraft also had four assists for the game.
"They're unbelievable,' Brason said of Hunn and Kraft. "That's why they're the captains on our team. They showed up for the game tonight.'
The Panthers jumped out to 6-4 lead in the third on two slap shots from the point off the stick of Jeff Mitchell that looked like a replay of one another. Besides scoring two big goals, Mitchell was a force on the defensive end as well.
"Jeff Mitchell played a really good game,' D'Aurizio said. "He really has taken the team on his back this year. He's had penalty troubles in the past, but he's really put them behind him. He asserts himself out there and he takes control of the team.'
Tennent could not hold the lead as the scrappy Lower Moreland team fought back to erase a multi-goal deficit for the second time in the game to earn the tie.
"We worked so hard in that second period that we couldn't lose,' Kraft said. "I knew that if we worked hard we could've done it and that's what we did.'
"It's been an issue all year,' D'Aurizio said of his team's struggles finishing games. "We're a young team. You look at us, we do look big, the majority of this team, I'd say 80 percent of this team is in ninth and 10th grade and they're still learning how to hold a lead and really buckle down.'