HATFIELD TWP. — The first trip down the ice a shoulder was lowered and a few players found their skates in the air, falling to the Hatfield Ice rink. It was clearly another installment of North Penn versus Central Bucks South. Coaches pleaded for the rivals to calm down and focus on finding the back of net.
However, the hard open ice hits never stopped and it turned out the Titans (17-3-1, 14-2-1 in conference) found the back of the net more often than the Knights (12-6-1, 10-5-1) Thursday night. In the 6-2 win, the Titans took 24 more shots than the Knights.
North Penn's goalie John Roberts had his hands full as the game was being played out in the Titans' offensive third for the majority of the game. The Knights were unable to clear the puck and Roberts needed to make 30 saves just to keep the game a manageable at 3-1 after two periods.
"We hung with them for the first period,' Knights coach Kevin Vaitis said. "They took over in the second and took the energy out of us. We were chasing the puck and were not working to get the puck out of our zone.'
It was goals by Dominic Bova and Leo Flick that helped put an early Christian Ahn goal behind them. Ahn was all over the ice, but unable to tally and tie the SHSHL Continental Conference contest. In fact, the Knights only had three shots on the goal in the second period while the Titans took 20 more than that. Ahn picked up his second goal midway through the third period.
"We were not prepared,' Ahn said. "Our chemistry was off because we were missing two guys. I still had my original line, but later in the game things got changed to injuries and penalties.'
While the Knights wanted to rally back in the third period, it was hard not to retaliate from the big hits and questionable non-calls by the referees. More times than not there was a high impact hits where the whistle was pocketed. A goal in the first minute of the final frame did not help the Knights cause. Flick found the back of the net for the second time and Mike Pilla sealed it.
"We were missing two of our top guys and that definitely hurt,' Vaitis said. "They came out ready to play and they played three periods. Anytime we play these guys we have to keep our head up and expect their best. Hopefully we get to see them next week in the playoffs and the outcome is different.'
The contact is part of the game, but the Knights know they need to keep their cool in the future. The playoffs start Monday and if they get knocked down then, they get knocked out for the year. And the Knights still have big goals this postseason.
"Our game is to play finesse and we got sucked into their game,' Ahn said. "They were physical and we took dumb penalties. Hopefully we can get it together and play better in the playoffs.'
Follow Andrew Marcus on Twitter @amarcus515.