Archbishop Wood knew coming into its game against Pennridge that a win would do wonders for its confidence with a tough portion of the schedule ahead. The end result was not the Vikings best performance of the season, but a win nonetheless.
Wood had 50 shots on goal in a 5-3 win over Pennridge on Wednesday night. Although Rams goalie Steven Wilms had a great game that included 46 saves, Pennridge could not score enough goals to win. The Vikings were led by Patrick Cavanaugh, who had two goals and an assist.
"Pennridge is a better team than their record shows, but we are on an upswing right now and we have a few really tough games ahead of us,' Wood coach Sam Gallen said. "If we keep working hard, we should be OK.'
A team that accumulates 50 shots should probably score more than five goals, but that was a testament to how well Wilms played. However, Wood kept a slight edge on Pennridge from the opening whistle, literally, as Ryan Meinke took the puck from the first faceoff of the game and scored seven seconds into the game. If this was the Pennridge team most saw in the early part of the season, the Rams may have fallen apart from there — but they kept their cool and stayed in the game.
"[Wilms] saw the puck really well tonight,' Pennridge coach Wayne Witzaney said. "Maybe that was a strength on our part because we let him see the puck and we didn't give away too many rebounds. He was phenomenal tonight, he really was.'
Pennridge's Aaron Crosson answered with seven minutes remaining in the first period, scoring on a mid-range blast to tie the contest at 1-1. However, the Rams got unlucky a few minutes later when Cavanaugh tapped the puck home to give the Vikings the 2-1 edge before the first intermission.
Wood continued to rack up the shots, but could not skate away from Pennridge. It looked as if the Rams would keep the deficit at one until Cavanaugh hit home a cross-ice pass from Meinke with 2:44 remaining in the second. Pennridge was still resilient down two goals, though, and proved as much when Luke Slater scored a short-handed goal less than a minute before the end of the period.
"The good news was the two short-handed goals, but we gave up 50 shots,' Witzaney said. "I think the effort was there and we are getting better. But we are having trouble clearing the puck and winning one-on-one battles. It's all about getting experience and we'll get there.'
Wood finally broke through and got the separation it needed in the third period. Matt Mandes punched home a loose puck less than a minute in and Jake Barcza followed that up seven minutes later with a converted two-on-one opportunity from Cavanaugh. Jake Wexler would net a second short-handed goal for the Rams a minute later, but the two-goal cushion, however short in duration, was enough for the Vikings to hold on.
"Two short-handed goals can't happen,' Gallen said. "I told the guys we have to be focused on both ends of the ice and not take dumb penalties. Still, it was good to see the guys play well despite us having some players missing due to injury. Pat Cavanaugh had a great game for us and Jake Barcza got his first goal, so it was a positive result.'