Lions pass test against rival Tigers

By John Hartsock

En route to its 13-0-1 start this season, the Altoona Area High School hockey team hasn’t been subjected to too many real stiff tests.

But Monday night’s 7-6 nail-biter over Laurel Mountain Hockey League archrival Hollidaysburg at Galactic Ice was one of them, and that didn’t surprise Mountain Lions’ coach Don Burgmeier in the least.

“It was a great game,” Burgmeier said, after watching his team carry the third period, 3-1 to wipe out a 5-4 deficit at the second intermission. “Every time these two teams play, you’re always going to get a game like this.

“All these kids on both teams know each other from playing travel hockey together,” Burgmeier said. “All the players know each other’s tendencies on the ice. Nobody is going to get away with anything (against an opponent).”

Sophomore left winger Owen Kravetz  got the game-winning goal for Altoona, taking a long lead pass from defenseman Cameron Sheets and working some magic en route to taking the decisive shot with just 3:30 left to break a 6-6 tie.

“I got a cross-ice pass from Sheets, made a move around one of (Hollidaysburg’s) defenders, cut to the left, went back to the middle, and saw the top right-hand corner of the net was open,” Kravetz said. “I shot it there.”

Kravetz’s wrist shot went over the shoulder of Hollidaysburg goaltender Josh Wolford to give Altoona the victory in a game in which the lead pinballed back and forth on several occasions.

“It was probably the best game that we’ve played all year,” Hollidaysburg coach John Burket said. “It’s a big cross-town rivalry, and we gave them a breakaway late in the game that turned the game around.”

Junior Cole Yeckley scored two goals and assisted on two others for Altoona, tying the score at 5-5 with a flashy unassisted goal at 4:22 of the third period. Yeckley weaved through the Hollidaysburg defense and tucked a backhander into the net to wipe out Hollidaysburg’s 5-4 second-intermission advantage.

Altoona went ahead, 6-5 just over three minutes later, when Yeckley won a faceoff in the Hollidaysburg zone, got the puck in the middle slot to Kravetz, and Kravetz buried a quick wrist shot past Wolford at the 7:55 mark.

Hollidaysburg tied the score again, 6-6 at the 10:10 mark, when forward Ethan Clabaugh scored on a rebound of his own shot after circling the Altoona net.

The lead changed hands frequently over the first two periods. The two teams were tied, 2-2 after one period, with Nate Nebelski and Ben Bowmaster scoring Hollidaysburg’s first-period goals and Butch Baker and Yeckley countering for Altoona, which outshot the Golden Tigers, 22-20 in the game.

Bowmaster’s goal came with Hollidaysburg playing shorthanded.

In the second period, Hollidaysburg took a 3-2 lead on Clabaugh’s unassisted backhand goal at the 1:47 mark, before Austin Homan countered that with an Altoona goal just 11 seconds later to make it a 3-3 game.

Nate Della tipped in Cole Yeckley’s shot at 2:59 to give Altoona a 4-3 lead, but Hollidaysburg tied the score, 4-4 when Matt Valente tipped in Bowmaster’s shot from the left point with the Golden Tigers on the power play at the 4:14 mark.

After Altoona had successfully killed off a two-man disadvantage that lasted for 40 seconds, Hollidaysburg managed to forge ahead, 5-4 when Nebelski scored his second goal of the game with 4:32 left in the second period.

“Especially considering the season that we’re having, I was definitely pleased that we came out and competed hard and went ahead several times in a game that went back and forth tonight,” Burket said.

Altoona showed some spirit of its own in the third period, though, to remain unbeaten.

“The third period was definitely our best period tonight,” Burgmeier said. “We told the players at the second intermission to just forget about the first two periods, and to come out in the third period and just let it go.

“And they responded,” Burgmeier said. “But this was a game that could have gone either way. There were a lot of opportunities for both teams.”


Altoona    2  2  3–7

Hollidaysburg     2  3  1–6


FIRST PERIOD: 1, H — Nebelski (Batzel, Hunter), 10:33. 2, A–Baker (Campbell), 11:50. 3, A–Cole Yeckley (Cameron Yeckley), 12:09. 4, H–Bowmaster (Clabaugh, Hunter), SHG, 12:48.

PENALTIES: H–Hooking minor, 12:29.

SECOND PERIOD: 5, H — Clabaugh (unassisted), 1:47. 6, A–Homan (unassisted), 1:58. 7, A–Della (Cole Yeckley), 2:59. 8, H–Valente (Bowmaster, Clabaugh), PPG, 4:14. 9, H–Nebelski (Singer), 10:28.

PENALTIES: A–Interference minor, 3:07; A–Holding minor, 6:38; A–Interference minor, 8:04.

THIRD PERIOD: 10, A — Cole Yeckley (unassisted), 4:22. 11, A–Kravetz (Cole Yeckley), 7:55. 12, H–Clabaugh (Bowmaster), 10:10. 13, A–Kravetz (Sheets), 11:30.

PENALTIES: A–Roughing minor, 5:13; H–Unsportsmanlke major, 11:30.

Goalies: Altoona, 14 shots saved- 20 shots faced; Hollidaysburg, 15 shots saved- 22 shots faced.

Records: Altoona (13-0-1); Hollidaysburg (3-10).