Cameron Trejchel collected a loose puck and fired it towards goal seconds into Thursday morning’s exhibition tilt between the PWHPA ‘All-Stars’ and the Utica Junior Comets of the USPHL’s NCDC conference. The shot clipped the stick of PWHPA D Megan Keller and went five-hole on goaltender Nicole Hensley. Just 26 seconds into the hockey game, the Comets had a lead and control. They held that control throughout the entire 60 minutes.
Haley Skarupa knotted things up at 1-1 at 5:44 of the opening period when she put a backhand shot on Comets’ starter Andy Vlaha. Vlaha made the initial stop, but was run into by his own defenseman and bumped the puck into the goal. Skarupa’s second of the training trip was the PWHPA’s first goal in the opening period.
The even footing lasted just 22 seconds. Gabe Cull took a feed from Dhillon Wilde and rifled a one-timer by Hensley at 6:06. This time, the Comets would not lose the lead. Logan Heroux collected a pass from Jason Shafer at the 8:46 mark while streaking into the faceoff circle. Heroux labelled a shot over the glove on Hensley to put Utica up 3-1.
Nick Ahern made a beautiful move on a breakaway to make it a 4-1 game at 3:02 of the second period. Ahern went backhand to forehand and got Hensley to slide out of the crease before stuffing home his 6th goal as a Comet.
The PWHPA responded with a Kelly Pannek goal in the second period, but it wasn’t enough. Pannek perfectly deflected a Lee Stecklein shot by Vlaha to make it a 4-2 game, but the PWHPA couldn’t hold off the Comets onslaught.
Wilde and Sam Techel both tacked on goals later in the second period, essentially cementing Utica’s win. Ben Kuzma deflected a shot by Brittany Ott at the 10:48 mark of the third to finish the scoring in Utica’s 7-2 victory.
Hensley, who started the game, made 15 saves on 20 shots in 30:55, while Ott stopped 28 shots while facing 30 in 29:05.
“I thought we played well enough to win today,” PWHPA ‘All-Star’ coach Bill Flanagan said. “We outplayed them for stretches of the game, had some really good looks. Credit their goaltender, he made some big saves and we had a few bounces go against us. We’ll have to be ready to go tomorrow.”
The PWHPA ‘All-Stars’ conclude their Hub City Tampa trip tomorrow morning with their sixth and final game. They’ll take on the Twin City Thunder of the USPHL’s NCDC conference. Puck drop is set for 10:40 am on HockeyTV.