WARWICK TOWNSHIP—Starting a game with a two-goal lead would be a significant advantage for any hockey team. That’s essentially the situation Council Rock South found itself in Friday night, and the circumstance Neshaminy had to deal with.
The Golden Hawks scored twice off Neshaminy turnovers before the game was two-and-a-half minutes old and went on to take a 5-2 decision in a SHSHL National-Continental non-league matchup at Revolution Ice Gardens.
Jeremy Purcell gave the Hawks (2-0) the lead just 30 seconds after the opening faceoff, beating Brian Nelson after the ‘Skins (1-1) turned the puck over in deep in their own zone near the right faceoff circle. Gavin Nisenzon made it 2-0 at the 2:22 mark with a shot from between the circles that Nelson initally stopped but the puck trickled over the goal line.
‘It’s the turnovers that are killing us,” said Neshaminy coach Matt DeMatteo. “I don’t know if we’re just trying to do too much with the puck, but I think we need to simplify the game and stop trying to do too much. It’s too early in the season to overcomplicate things.”
Nolan Geria got the ‘Skins on the board at the 6:44 mark of the first frame off a feed from Robert Seewagen, who was stationed beyond the goal line and found his teammate in the slot.
Both teams had an abundance of chances after that but Nelson and Jimmy Sweeney, his South counterpart, stepped up; they combined for 54 saves, an abundance of them, at both ends of the ice, under duress.
Brennan Wright extended the South lead with a power-play goal 2:24 into the second frame. Seewagen answered for Neshaminy just 55 seconds later but would not score again. When Kyle Boss score for the Golden Hawks with just 26 seconds left in the second session, Sweeney had the same two-goal margin going into the third period that he enjoyed for most of the first.
“I felt like everyone on my team was sharp tonight,” he said. “Everyone played good. I felt like I was a little shaky in the beginning but then I felt like I settled in.”
Sweeney played some of his best hockey in the final period to keep Neshaminy at bay. He made his best save of the night when he denied Max Gallagher from close range with 1:49 left in the period to keep it a two-goal game. It was an effort that left him sprawled on the ice.
“I felt like (his teammates) found their extra gear,” Sweeney said. “Everyone was out there skating as hard as they could.
The only goal of the period came from South’s Douglas Lopez into an empty net with 56 seconds remaining.
• Friday’s game was the first of two meetings between the two teams this season. It will not count in the division standings but will have an impact on seedings for the Flyers Cup tournament. The ‘Skins and the Golden Hawks will meet again on March 17. That game will count in the division standings.
Neshaminy 1 1 0—2
Council Rock South 2 1 2—5
First-period goals: Jeremy Purcell (CRS) from Douglas Lopez, :30; Gavin Nisenzon (CRS) unassisted, 2:22; Nolan Geria (N) from Robert Seewagen, 6:44.
Second-period goals: Brennan Wright (CRS) from Kyle Boss, 2:24 (pp); Seewagen (N) from J.J. Hathaway and Max Gallagher, 3:19; Boss (CRS) from Julian Sarne and Juian Wagenmann, 15:34.
Third-period goal: Lopez (CRS) unassisted, 15:04 (en).
Shots: Neshaminy 31, Council Rock South 30; Saves: Brian Nelson (N) 25, Jimmy Sweeney (CRS) 29.