North Penn overcomes Thomas, Perk Valley in Flyers Cup AA Play-In Round

HATFIELD TWP. >> The North Penn ice hockey team sent 39 shots at Perkiomen Valley goaltender Hunter Thomas through two periods. But only two of those found away into the net.

“When we looked at sort of our shot chart there after two periods, we had all of our shots were right in the house there right in front where you want them,” Knights coach Kevin Vaitis said. “He was just making some nice saves tonight. Credit to him and game he played.”

Thomas sterling effort between the posts allowed the 20th-seeded Vikings to hang around in the Flyers Cup AA play-in round contest. And with 5:30 left in the third period, Perk Valley struck on the power play to make it a one-score game.

But No. 13 North Penn did not let any offensive frustration sink it Monday night at Hatfield Ice.

“We know we’re getting our shots off, we’re getting our chances,” North Penn’s Nathan Oh said. ‘We know we’re going to put one in soon. We got the confidence. We’re keeping each other up the entire game.”

Fifty-five seconds after the Vikings made it 2-1, Josh Kaufhold buried a backhand past Thomas to give the Knights back a two-goal advantage. North Penn added another goal in the final seconds as it advanced to the second round with a 4-1 victory.

“We got to be more defensively aware in that situation, but I thought at the end of the game we played really well,” Oh said. “Josh had really nice goal at the end and Kevin (Braeunle) put it in the last minute.”

Oh assisted on North Penn’s opening tally and scored its second as the Knights move on to face No. 4 William Tennent in the second round 7:10 p.m. Wednesday at Bucks County Ice Sports Center.

“William Tennent, they’re a fantastic team,” Oh said. “We beat them earlier in the year but we’re not going to underestimate them at all. They got a lot of star power but we know we came beat them if we play our game.”

Thomas ended the night stopping 47 of North Penn’s 51 shots, twice stoning shorthanded breakaways to give the AA bracket’s lowest seed a chance late.

“He’s been that way all year long,” said Perk Valley coach Harvey Friedland of Thomas. “I believe he plays travel team for the Junior Flyer and if you look at our statistics, we probably average giving up 40 shots a game and he’s a big reason why we’re in some of the games.”

Despite the loss, Friedland sees playing in the Flyers Cup as a way for a young PV squad to build towards future success.

“It was just a big opportunity for us. We were 20th seed, we knew it was going to be a tough road,” he said. “And look, give that team a ton of credit – fundamentally they were very good. You couldn’t point to anybody great, but all-around, they were just very solid. And you got to give them credit for that.”

North Penn goalkeeper Caleb Floyd stopped 13 of 14 shots.

The Knights got a puck past Thomas for a 1-0 late in the opening period as Andrew Galetta slid a pass to Tyler Greenstein in front of the net for a one-timer at 2:05. Oh had the secondary assist.

Oh doubled the North Penn advantage in the second period, scoring off a Corey Stouffer assist at 3:40.

“Corey Stouffer made a great pass over to me. I was driving the net,” Oh said. “I kind of made a move, I kind of shot it. It deflected off a defenseman’s stick, went in the net. That’s how we’re going to score tonight, just getting shots on net, doing whatever we can to get a goal.”

Perk Valley, however, made things interesting when Charlie Murphy beat Floyd on the power play at 5:30 in the third.

But the Knight answered within a minute, Kaufhold charging to the net and backhanding a shot behind Thomas at 4:35.

“That was the message we were giving, ‘Look, you’re playing well, you’re outshooting another team 40-9 or 40-7, whatever, after two periods. You’re doing a lot of good things and keep doing those things for the third period here.’ And that’s what we did,” Vaitis said.

North Penn added a fourth goal on the power play as Braeunle placed a puck into the top of the net with 13.8 seconds left.

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