LOWER PAXTON TWP. — Generally coaches aren’t happy with a tie game.
But considering the circumstances of Friday night’s hockey game, MSM United and coach Romiglio Bollana were happy to battled back and tie the Shamrocks 6-6 at Twin Ponds East.
Shamrocks (9-4-2) got six goals from Johnson, who went over, around and through the MSM defense for those goals. He is one of the fastest skaters around and uses that speed to beat defenses.
“Playing against the Shamrocks are always a challenge for us,” Bollana said. “Riley Johnson is a special talent, and he forces you to focus on not making mistakes. He will make you pay if you make that mistake — for that matter, he makes you pay even when you play good defense.”
Johnson’s outburst came just two nights after he recorded a hat trick outdoors at Hersheypark Stadium in the CPIHL All-Star Game, helping his American team to a 10-7 win.
MSM United (4-9-4) relied on Ben Plastina to mark him and attempt to slow him down, but Johnson did beat him for several goals.
Johnson scored his first goal just 41 seconds in, but less than 20 seconds later Cade Baker, tied the contest for MSM United.
Johnson tallied his second goal with 4:53 left and gave the Shamrocks a 2-1 lead after one period.
Baker tallied the second of his four goals on a short-handed goal to tie the game, but Johnson took a nice dish from Lance Coffey to again give the Shamrocks a one-goal advantage.
MSM United scored two goals to take a 4-3 lead only to watch Johnson skate past three defenders to tie the game at four with 5:36 left.
With a limited MSM United squad, the key in the final period was whether or not they had enough gas left to finish the game.
“These kids gave it their all tonight,” Bollana said. “They come to play every night and they know what the Shamrocks bring. It is our rivalry. Vaughn Hennessey came up big tonight on many occasions in the nets. Everybody stepped up tonight to help out.”
Johnson scored his fifth goal on a short-handed break.
Baker put the equalizer past Shamrock keeper Jaxson Hibbard to even the game, but Johnson tallied No. 6 with just 6:57 left in the game.
“We made some mistakes tonight and we know what we did wrong,” Shamrocks coach Augustin Book said. “We had many chances to win this game but they always bring their A-game to play against us. We have to play Cedar Crest and MSM again next Friday to get ready for the playoffs.”
Baker broke on a 3-2 breakaway and beat Hibbard, with assists being credited to Jonathan Brookes and Hayden Bridges, with 1:50 left. MSM had two opportunities, but both rips by Colin Nemshick were wide left.
Bridges and Jack Duker tallied the other MSM goals. Nemshick was credited with three assists.
Coffee was credited with two assists for the Shamrocks.