Saving the best for last
Altoona Area High School won the Laurel Mountain Hockey League championship last March, and the Mountain Lions returned all but four players from that team this season.
“They’re one of the teams to beat in this league,” Hollidaysburg coach Sean McTigue said of the Mountain Lions late Tuesday night at Galactic Ice. “They have a lot of offensive ability and firepower, and they’ve got some kids who can put the puck in the net.”
Altoona showed off its offensive firepower in the third period Tuesday, scoring six goals — including five in a span of 2:42 — en route to a come-from-behind 8-4 victory over Hollidaysburg.
Altoona coach Don Burgmeier wasn’t pleased with the play of his team over the first two periods, which Hollidaysburg carried to take a 3-2 lead at the second intermission.
The third period was a different story, as Altoona staged a breakout to improve to 5-0-1 on the season.
“I thought we started horribly,” Burgmeier said. “We were really flat, and we had to scrap to get back into the game. But I thought we did a real good job in the third period. We kind of exploded.”
With Altoona trailing, 3-2 entering the third period, junior forward Owen Kravetz’s second goal of the game — on a wrist shot from the high left wing that beat Hollidaysburg senior goalie Josh Wolford over the shoulder at the 1:17 mark — tied the score, 3-3 and set the stage for Altoona’s outburst.
Senior forward Butch Baker scored his first of two goals at the 5:52 mark, knocking in a rebound to give Altoona a 4-3 lead.
Just 10 seconds later, junior A.J. Thompson scored off assists from sophomore Tyler Umbleby and senior Cameron Yeckley to make it 5-3, and 15 seconds after that, Umbleby knocked in a loose rebound to give Altoona a 6-3 lead.
The onslaught continued at the 7:11 mark, when Baker scored a rebound goal, and concluded at 8:34, on a goal by junior Austin Homan that gave Altoona an 8-3 advantage.
Altoona outshot Hollidaysburg, 16-8 in the final period, taking a territorial advantage in the third period after the Golden Tigers (now 2-3-1 this season) had enjoyed the better of the going through the first two periods.
“I thought we played a lot better defense in the third period,” Burgmeier said. “We had only 12 shots over the first two periods, which was not very good, but was a credit to (Hollidaysburg’s) fine defensive play.
“In the third period, we wanted to be a little faster, a little more attentive to our play on defense, and we wanted to get more shots on goal,” Burgmeier said. “It worked.”
Hollidaysburg got a three-goal hat trick from junior forward Nate Nebelski, whose second-period rebound goal at the 12:14 mark gave the Tigers a 3-2 lead and broke a 2-2 tie that had been created by Cameron Yeckley’s power-play shot from the right point nine seconds previously.
Nebelski also scored in the first and third periods and added an assist for Hollidaysburg, which got the first goal of the night on a wrist shot by senior forward Matt Valente just 55 seconds into the game.
Altoona has been playing without senior forward Cole Yeckley, the league’s leading scorer last year, who suffered a broken wrist in the first game this season.
He’s expected to return soon, which will give the Mountain Lions even more strength in their offensive lineup.
“We have a lot of young kids on this year’s team — seven players in either the ninth or tenth grade,” Burgmeier said. “But we’re doing well.”
SCORE BY PERIODS
Hollidaysburg 2 1 1–4
Altoona 0 2 6–8
FIRST PERIOD: 1, HOL — M. Valente (Nebelski), 0:55. 2, H–Nebelski (Larkin), 11:45.
SECOND PERIOD: 3, A — Kravetz (Wyland), 1:05. 4, A–Cam. Yeckley (unassisted), ppg., 12:05. 5, H–Nebelski (M. Valente), 12:14. Penalties: Hollidaysburg (holding), 2:28; Hollidaysburg (interference), 10:18; Altoona (high-sticking), 12:22.
THIRD PERIOD: 6, A — Kravetz (Cam. Yeckley, Baker), 1:17. 7, A–Baker (Kravetz), 5:52. 8, A–Thompson (Umbleby, Cam. Yeckley), 6:02. 9, A–Umbleby (Wyland), 6:17. 10, A–Baker (Kravetz, Wyland), 7:11. 11, A–Homan (unassisted), 8:34. 12, H–Nebelski (Ferris), 9:46.
Shots on goal: Altoona 28, Hollidaysburg 18.
Saves: Hollidaysburg–Wolford, 17; T. Valente, 3; Altoona–Montgomery, 14.
Records: Hollidaysburg (2-3-1); Altoona (5-0-1).