HATFIELD TWP. >> Without its best defenseman in Frankie Rota, and facing a three-goal deficit early, Pennridge leaned on goalie Luke Stranick to keep the Rams in it while Michael Walker and Eric Slater kept on connecting.
“I’ve been playing with Slater for nine years now,” Walker said with a smile shortly after skating off the ice for a final time Wednesday night. “He and I have been clicking for nine years so it’s kind of coming together. Since we’re juniors now — we’re older and stuff, we have the chemistry and that’s putting a lot of points up for both of us.
“The same with (Patrick) McGinley, he’s up there too.”
Walker had a hat trick, Slater racked up four assists and McGinley wound up with a hat trick of his own to rally Pennridge from a 4-1 deficit to a 6-4 victory at Hatfield Ice.
“When you’re down like that, you can’t just let them roll over on you. We talked on the bench and we were like, ‘we gotta pick it up,’” Walker said.
The comeback began midway through the second period, when Slater set up Walker to slice the margin to 4-2. McGinley then scored twice to make it an even contest heading into the third.
“It was an ugly start,” Pennridge coach Ken Doak said, “but we made some big adjustments during the game and it worked out. We let the older guys and the more experienced guys have the ice, and they determined the outcome. They wanted to win.”
Walker put Pennridge ahead 5-4 just 29 seconds into the third and then Walker made his third assist, passing to McGinley on a power play to widen the margin.
Stranick made 38 saves in all, shutting out West the final period and a half.
“Luke’s a great goalie,” Walker said. “He plays awesome. He’s a solid kid. Last year he was a little rough but this year he’s been solid.”
“That’s the difference this year,” Doak said. “Our goaltender’s been rock solid.”
Stranick was voted Player of the Game by his team and his play was huge on this night, as the team continues to miss Rota (illness). His absence left some big skates to fill in the middle, and West (3-1, 1-1 in 2A Continental) was finding openings early.
After a goal by Walker, the Bucks scored four straight — two by Joey DeYoung and one each by Jake Lang and Joey Rockovich.
But Pennridge (5-1, 3-0 in 2A Continental) rallied back past West, a young team with eight new players and four kids that are playing bigger roles this winter.
“We showed that we can play well based on the first 24 minutes of the game,” Bucks coach Dave Baun said. “When you get a young team, we stopped playing our game.
“There were a couple of delays in the game and I think we lost some of our focus. And we had some unfortunate penalties at inopportune times, and they caused us to come off the rails a little bit.”
CB West takes on Council Rock South back at Hatfield Ice on Wednesday at 7:10 and Pennridge is in action again Dec. 7 against William Tennent, also at Hatfield Ice at 7:10.
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