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College Hockey:
Hobart Staves Off Lebanon Valley Comeback

— Lebanon Valley took advantage of eight straight minutes of power play by scoring three straight goals to pull back to a 4-4 tie with Hobart during the second period of tonight’s ECAC West game. But Hobart’s Shawn Houde was able to chip in a bouncing puck midway through the third period to lead the Statesmen to a 6-4 victory.

“It was one of those games where you are not sure how you played,” said Hobart coach Mark Taylor. “There were some goals that we need to get better on. Tonight we used a lot of depth on our team.”

The Statesmen carried a 3-1 lead and momentum into the second period, dominating play for the first two minutes. But Lebanon Valley made the most of its first opportunity of the second stanza to narrow the deficit to 3-2.

Alex Beatrice carried the puck across the blue line along the right boards, toe dragged around a defender, and ripped a shot high over starting Hobart goaltender Dimitri Papaevagelou’s glove for Lebanon Valley’s second goal.

“At the end of the [first] period, I told them not to try and win it in the second period,” said Lebanon Valley coach Al MacCormack. “Just don’t give them anything and see if we can get back to within one by the end of the period, and maybe even tie it.”

The early score gave the Dutchmen a big lift emotionally, and they started playing a much more aggressive forecheck. This extra pressure led to Hobart getting in penalty trouble around the seven minute mark of the period, and the two teams never skated at 5-on-5 again for the remainder of the stanza.

Lebanon Valley started a 5-on-3 power play at 7:54, the first of three such advantages it would hold throughout the period. Hobart held firm, though, and once it got one skater back was able to widen its lead when Robert Wahler scored a shorthanded breakaway goal at 11:08 to give Hobart a 4-2 lead.

“That shorthanded goal was a killer in this hockey game, just a killer,” said MacCormack.

The Statesmen continued their penalty problems with three more straight penalties. Lebanon Valley converted twice more on those opportunities to tie the game 4-4.

“We did everything possible that we could to slow the game up, and force them into making some mistakes,” said MacCormack. “We capitalized on them, and they got a little ragged, and then the odd man advantages over and over disrupts a team of their magnitude.”

The Dutchmen’s third goal came at 11:56 when Jason Slusher walked in from the left point and wristed a shot high over Papaevagelou’s glove for the power play goal. That ended the night for Papaevagelou, after being beaten three times on the glove side, and he was replaced in the Hobart net by freshman Keith Longo.

Lebanon Valley tallied another power play goal, during its third 5-on-3 advantage of the period when Matt Rowe poked in a rebound at 13:19.

“The 5-on-3′s, eventually they are going to get those, especially when you give them back-to-back ones,” said Taylor. “The way we came out and got the goal [early in the first period] is the way we are going to do it. Then we hit the bump in the road and we had to figure that out a little bit. We learned how to turn it around.”

Shortly afterward, Lebanon Valley started to fall into the penalty trap as well, giving Hobart a late 5-on-3 power play that lasted for the last 1:50 of the second period and first thirty six seconds into the third.

Both teams lost important players to major penalties and game misconducts during the second period, Colby McVey for Hobart and Cameron Vandeveer for Lebanon Valley.

The third period was quickly played, with the first whistle not occurring until almost five minutes in. Hobart dinged two shots off the crossbar, the first just seconds into the period, before scoring to take the lead for the final time at 12:36.

Shawn Houde was able to corral a bouncing puck during a big scramble in front of the Lebanon Valley net, and flip it home to give Hobart a 5-4 lead.

“We were on the defensive in the third period some of the time, but you have to be in the game down the stretch in order to win it,” said MacCormack. “And we were. It was just a bounce one way or the other.”

Lebanon Valley kept digging, trying to tie the game again to at least send it to overtime. But Hobart’s Matt Garman won the foot race to a loose puck rolling in the Lebanon Valley zone and backhanded in an empty netter from a tight angle at 19:09 to seal the 6-4 victory.

Hobart dominated every aspect of the game in the first period, but it took until late in the period before the Statesmen gained an edge on the scoreboard.

The Statesmen opened the scoring just 4:34 into the period when Andrew Brennan flipped the puck from the corner towards the net. Lebanon Valley goaltender Sonny Holding got the puck caught up in his skates and tried to sit on it, but Matt Garman pounced on the puck first and poked it home for the goal.

Lebanon Valley answered right back that the Hobart defenders thought they had broken up as the Dutchmen crossed the blue line. But Justin Todd was able to collect the bouncing puck and slide a wristshot under Hobart goaltender Dimitri Papaevagelou’s glove to tie the game 1-1 at 8:27.

Hobart continued to dominate territorially and finally broke through with a pair of goals late in the period. Brian Cibelli finished off a crisp passing play with a goal at 15:59. And Jason Merritt out-hustled the Lebanon Valley defenders to a loose puck at the side of the Dutchmen net to score Hobart’s third goal at 16:54.

Lebanon Valley had a chance to narrow the margin at 18:40 when Brendon Herr almost won the race to a loose puck in the low slot, with Papaevagelou down and out. But the Hobart defense was first to the puck and cleared it harmlessly into the corner to maintain their 3-1 advantage at the close of the period.

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