CASEY CLASSIC: Back Mountain Holds Off Wyoming Area For Title
WILKES-BARRE — Wyoming Area was right where it wanted to be.
Despite struggling to find scoring opportunities against a stout Back Mountain defense, WA’s Jakob Switzer took the pass from Nick Perry and snuck the puck past keeper Daymond Kovaly to trim the Blackhawk lead to one goal with two minutes to play.
That momentum lasted exactly 11 seconds.
Back Mountain won the ensuing face-off and Zachary Aben found Trevor Kruczek for the immediate answer as the team won the Casey Classic championship, 4-3, Sunday night at the Toyota SportsPlex.
For head coach Barry Noss and the Blackhawks, it’s the team’s first Casey Classic championship in five years.
“When you can come back and make that score on the very next shift within 30 seconds, that’s huge,” Noss said. “Goalies can only stop so many shots, so as soon as we get that opportunity to put it on net, we do and we crash hard. And you saw that some of them went in off the rebound.”
Switzer’s goal was like catching lightning in a bottle at the perfect moment.
Just when the Warriors needed something to light that flint and spark a fire, that goal did just that. The Wyoming Area faithful in attendance rose to their feet. The energy started to flow back through the bench, and the belief of capturing the championship was back.
But it was only back for 11 seconds.
“We knew that we had to get that momentum right back,” Kruczek said. “It’s all about momentum in this game. They were playing really defensively, so we knew that we had to score. It’s a great feeling. It’s a great team win.”
Scoring opportunities just weren’t there for Wyoming Area.
The Warriors were outshot 38-18 by Back Mountain, and played on the defensive for almost 10 minutes of the first period.
And for that extended period of time, a goal is bound to sneak through.
In Back Mountain’s case, two did.
Aben took a feed from Kruczek to beat WA keeper Matthew Benton stick-side for an early, 1-0 lead eight minutes into the first period. Back Mountain added another on a Logan Heberner’s goal to the top-corner of the net.
“We were able to come together,” Aben said. “Everyone just trusted the system. We are a team that’s big on getting goals right back after someone scores on us. We knew that was big, and understood how important it was getting that goal right back. We wanted to shut down that momentum as quick as we could.”
Wyoming Area was more aggressive in the second period. After taking just five shots on goal in the opening 15 minutes, the Warriors continually pressured the Back Mountain back line, and finally got on the scoreboard when Matt Romanowski’s one-timer beat Kovaly, trimming the deficit to 2-1 with 11:30 left.
But like they did all night, the Blackhawks had an answer as Aben’s second goal increased the lead back to two goals six minutes later.
“This is the premier tournament over the Christmas break,” Noss said. “When the kids hit the ice, they start to grip the stick a little tighter and the nerves settle in. The seniors really want this win. We just tried to keep it light on the bench. This is huge, and I’m so happy for the seniors because we haven’t won this tournament in five years. It’s great to see them go off with the Casey Classic title.”
Aben added an assist to go along with his two goals, while Kruczek had one goal and two assists for Back Mountain.
Romanowski scored twice, including a goal with just one second left on the clock.
Back Mountain 2 1 1 – 4
Wyoming Area 0 1 2 – 3
BM – Aben (Kruczek assist), 5:22
BM – Herberner (Z. Jesse, B. Jesse assists), 0:22
WA – Romanowski (Musinski assist), 11:30
BM – Aben (Kruczek assist), 5:00
WA – Switzer (Perry assist), 2:05
BM – Kruczek (Aben assist), 1:54
WA – Romanowski (unassisted), 0:01
Shots: Back Mountain 38, Wyoming Area 18
All-Tournament team: KC Medico, Wyoming Seminary; Trevor Kruczek, Back Mountain; Brendan Jesse, Back Mountain; Zachary Aben, Back Mountain; Nick Perry, Wyoming Area; Daymond Kovaly, Back Mountain.