Nothing comes easily for a Newark Generals team full of new faces.
But a gut-check victory last Thursday before a large crowd at the Lou and Gib Reese Ice Arena might have gotten them over the hump.
Outshot 38-18 and plagued by 10 penalties, Newark still found a way to pull out a 3-2 Greater Columbus High School Club Hockey League win against the PHA Prowlers in a heated game.
The Prowlers had seven penalties of their own, including three in the final 2:51, and had the tying goal disallowed in the third period.
“We finished the game, and it was our third line out there that finished,” Generals coach Don Jennings said. “It was nice to go in there and legitimately commend the youngsters. They gave us a lot of energy. We can’t continue beating up on our top two lines, and tonight we were without our leading scorer Levi Beckholt and Cole Jaquith is out for the season.”
“That was a huge step, because we’re a young team,” assistant coach Kyle Thomas said. “The last five minutes is usually more important than the first 40.”
Granville features six players on the Generals: senior defender Nathaniel Fowler, senior forward Hayes Link, junior forward Ben Dennis, sophomore defender Sam Stewart, sophomore forward Troy Peek and sophomore forward Cole Jaquith. Jaquith, however, is out for the season with an injury.
One of the third liners — senior Cullen Blaney — scored two goals, including the game-winner with 13:12 left for Newark (2-2-2). With the Generals on the power play, he poked home a rebound off a Tyler Salyer shot. The Prowlers (2-3-1) appeared to tie it with 9:47, but the officials ruled the goal had been kicked in.
“We finally came together and started fore-checking as a team,” Blaney said. “We kept them in their zone. My teammates were checking hard, and I was able to get rebounds on both of them.”
Despite seemingly being a man down throughout a penalty-filled first period, Newark still found the net twice in less than a minute. Blaney scored on a rebound at 1:22, off assists by Troy Peek and Sam Stewart. Then Taylor Blome had an unassisted goal with 29 seconds to go as the Generals rushed ahead 2-0.
But the Prowlers scored on two long second-period blasts to tie it at 2.
“I was screened on the first. I was kind of getting mad because the net was out,” said sophomore Charlie Smart, who had an outstanding night in goal with 36 saves on 38 shots. “The second one was deep and it was tipped.
“At the beginning of the game, I was getting tired but I kept battling through it. The defense got the puck out and there were no bad rebounds. It really helps having a good defense.”
Jennings said Newark can’t continue with all the penalties.
“It’s a mental game, and taking bad penalties is not thinking,” he said after the Generals received two 10-minute misconducts. “It’s something we guard against.”
The Generals’ confidence received a major boost.
“We’ve been waiting for this, our first home win all season,” Smart said.
“It feels great, and we have to keep moving forward,” Blaney said. “Every game we play, everyone is getting better.”
Generals 6, Athens 4
Newark made an almost three-hour trip on snowy roads worth it Friday in hammering Athens in GCHSCHL play.
The Generals (4-3-2, 3-2-2) led 2-0 after the first and 5-2 after the second.
Taylor Blome scored twice and had two assists and Ben Dennis and Sam Stewart had two goals apiece. Hayes Link, Tyler Salyer and Drew Ross each tallied assists.
Dustin Bargo got the win in goal as Newark outshot Athens 41-27.