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Warriors crush A-C in CPIHL playoffsIce Hockey
By: JOHN CRAWFORD Record Express Correspondent, Staff Writer
The Warwick ice hockey team was short-handed against Annville-Cleona, but you never would have known it.
Capitalizing on hat tricks by Casey Witmyer and Marc Wiczkowski, the Warriors pounded Annville-Cleona 8-1 in the CPIHL playoffs last Friday at the Lancaster Ice Rink to guarantee themselves a spot in the Tier-II semi-finals.
West York defeated Manheim Township 7-5 last Friday and will host the Warriors in York at 6:45 p.m. this Friday, March 2.
Stephen Crawford added a goal and two assists and goalie Steven Jostes faced only 16 shots but made several remarkable saves to help lead the way in Warwick’s win over the Little Dutchmen.
"We gave up 15, 16 shots tonight," said assistant coach Adam Wood, who filled in for ailing coach Gary Baylor. "From our goalie on out, we’re playing really well. We’re passing and playing as a unit."
The Warriors played as a short-handed unit with Mitchell Hill and Danny Gordon unavailable for the game. From experience, they knew what to do.
"I think we’ve adapted really well throughout the season," Wiczkowski said. "The first few times we played them in the season, we had 18 shots the first game and 19 the second. Going into (this game), we knew we needed to get more shots than that. That was the game plan — go hard in the beginning because with eight skaters out there, we’re going to die pretty quickly."
Consistent with the game plan, Aaron Wright tried to stuff a shot a minute and a half into the first and followed with two shots later in the shift. However, the Dutchmen created the better chances. With 12:40 left in the first, A-C’s Cody Brightbill, who scored 32 goals in the regular season, skated in on Jostes from the left wing and released a hard, rising shot headed for the right corner of the net, but Jostes made the glove save.
"The puck came down (the ice) and it was a quick shot," Jostes recalled. "One of my defensemen was in front of me so my vision was a little blocked there. I reacted to the puck from what I could see in between skates."
Brightbill exacted a bit of revenge when he beat Jostes at the 12:23 mark for the Dutchmen’s only lead of the game.
The Warriors began to pepper opposing goalie Matthew Schultz but didn’t beat him until Wiczkowski scored from Nathan Weaver’s assist from behind the net.
"We set up behind the net and we run that play really well," Wiczkowski said. "One guy will go behind the net, take his time with the puck, which a lot of our freshmen are doing. (Weaver) is doing really well holding onto the puck. He took his time with it, came out of the corner, drew the pressure and saw me up there and from there, it was easy."
Witmyer capitalized on a Dutchmen miscue at their blue line and scored unassisted with 1:50 left in the first to give Warwick the 2-1 lead.
Jostes faced only five shots in the first, but worked much harder in the second as A-C pressed the action. Twenty-four seconds into the period, a Dutchmen goal mouth scrum forced a Jostes’ pad save. As the pile of players in the crease got pushed backward, the puck crept closer to the goal line, but managed to stay out of the net.
Annville had lowered the hammer enough to build 12-10 lead in shots for the game when Drew White picked up an elbowing penalty with 4:59 left in the second. Poised to tie the game and gain some momentum, the Dutchmen were stunned by Witmyer’s shorthanded goal at the 4:43 mark. Wiczkowski cleared the puck from the Warriors’ zone and Witmyer took the puck into the Dutchmen’s end. He proceeded to move around the A-C defense and deposit the puck behind Schultz for the 3-1 lead.
Despite the two-goal cushion, the Warriors needed to kill the remaining penalty to retain control of the game. They managed to do so but not without hearing the puck clang off the goal post.
"They had a few post shots, which were close and scared me a little bit," Jostes conceded.
Throughout the regular season, the Warriors built early leads and hung on late since they often played with fewer teammates than their opponents. Despite having fewer players than Annville and fighting fatigue, the Warriors dominated the third with goals from Wright, Witmyer, Crawford and two from Wiczkowski.
"We did a good job managing shifts is what it came down to in in the third period," Wiczkowski said. "We started to run out of gas but we started moving the puck than skating (with it) to conserve energy when we needed it."
The double elimination format of the CPIHL playoffs means the Warriors will play at least two more games and at least one in the winner’s bracket.
"We play the winner of the West York-Township (game)," Wood said. "If we win that, we’re in the championship. If we lose that, we go to the semis. We’re guaranteed semis. Hopefully we can win all the way through." More SKATERS, page B-3