SUSQUEHANNA TWP. — Often referred to as a man-advantage, the power play for the Shamrocks in Wednesday night’s CPIHL Rothrock Division elimination game against Lampeter-Strasburg seemed to be anything but an advantage.
They had eight opportunities on the power play and, for the first seven, Lampeter-Strasburg scored more times a man down — once. That was a first-period goal that gave the Pioneers a one-goal lead for a short amount of time.
The Shamrocks’ eighth and final attempt at 5-on-4 was the one that did the trick, and it could not have come at a better time for coach A.J. Carr’s group.
Jack Straub tallied the only power play goal of the night, tying the game at five with 6:45 remaining in the third period. It was all Shamrocks the rest of the way, as a Lance Coffey goal gave them the lead soon after and Riley Johnson iced the game for a 7-5 victory.
“We were spreading the ice but not moving around to get to that space,” Carr said of the power play struggles. “They were clogging us up, but we found the space and got the shots we needed at the end of that power play.”
It was a back-and-forth game that saw the Shamrocks more often playing catch-up.
After Straub scored the first of his two goals to open up the game’s scoring, Lampeter-Strasburg scored the next two.
Johnson then scored the first goal of a hat trick to knot the game up at two before the second period began. But the Pioneers scored two goals before the halfway point of regulation.
The Shamrocks answered again with goals from Johnson and Michael Soule to tie it up at 4-4 before the end of the second period.
“That was a very fun game to play in,” Johnson said. “Very hard-fought game. Both teams played very well. Glad to come out with the win.”
Lampeter-Strasburg did retake the lead with a Charles Braught IV goal just over a minute into the third period. It then took eight minutes before the Shamrock fans in attendance could breathe a little sigh of relief after Straub’s game-tying goal.
The goal came right after Carr called a timeout to settle down his team.
“I told them to just go win those one-on-one battles,” Carr said. “We’ve been working on the same systems all season. Nothing changes. We needed the chance to calm the guys down and say, ‘Hey, go do your thing.’ And they went and did it.”
The Shamrocks move on to the elimination bracket finals against No. 2 Central York on Friday night at York Ice Arena. It’s a rematch from a winner’s bracket semifinals game a week-and-a-half ago that saw Central York win 9-1.
So it certainly won’t be an easy task for the Shamrocks to move on to the Rothrock Division Championship game against top seed Cedar Crest next Saturday.
On what needs to be done for a better result than last time, Johnson says the overall style of play has to change.
“We just need to play the body more,” Johnson said. “We weren’t really playing man-on-man, we were just playing stick-on-puck. They got by us a lot of the time by doing that, so we have to come out with more intensity.”
For Carr, the team’s play on Wednesday night gives him confidence for the rematch.
“From [tonight’s] third period, I don’t think anything has to change,” Carr said. “We just have to go do what we do. We get into a tempo and we run our systems, we shut teams down. That’s what we got to do on Friday.”