hockey defeats national champ Bethel
Golden Tornado hold on for 4-3 win Monday
MIDDLESEX TWP — Trevor Gilliland believed the Butler hockey team picked up an important PIHL Class AAA win Monday night against Bethel Park at Ice Connection.
The Golden Tornado forward also knew it learned a lesson in the process.
When protecting a three-goal lead against the defending PIHL runner-up and high school national champions, there's no time to relax.
The Black Hawks scored twice with their goalie pulled in the final minute, but Butler (3-1-1) held on for a 4-3 win.
“We need to get the puck deep and not let them settle in the zone,” said Gilliland, who finished with a game-high three points. “We were trying to turn it around and get back in the win column. (The win) is going to prove that we're one of the top teams in the league and that we can beat anyone in the league.”
After losing 12 seniors from a section championship team, first-year Golden Tornado coach Patrick Hammonds expected some growing pains.
That's why he thought Bethel Park's comeback may help his team.
“It's a learning experience. We have a lot of talent, but we're also very young,” Hammonds said. “That's what it's all about. They need to understand the circumstances and be committed and disciplined. They learned how being undisciplined can impact the game.”
Issues with discipline hurt Bethel Park in the third period.
Trailing 2-1, the Black Hawks' Ethan Wdowiak and Tyler Kruszewski drew penalties for high-sticking and tripping, respectively, within a minute of each other.
Connor Scott capitalized, scoring on an assist from Marcus McCall and Gilliland to put Butler ahead 3-1 3 minutes, 21 seconds into the period.
Gilliland scored his second goal — and the Golden Tornado's third on the power play — 46 seconds later.
“Stupid (expletive) penalties kill you,” Bethel Park coach James McVay said. “That's all I can say about it. Stupid (expletive) penalties kill you.”
Bethel Park drew four penalties, but still out-shot Butler, 30-20.
Clay Bachman earned the win with 27 saves.
Dustin Davis said the Golden Tornado wanted to be aggressive to slow down Bethel Park.
“We knew they were a high-tempo team,” Davis said. “We know we had to get the puck deep, put bodies on them and slow their game down. Trap them in the neutral zone and do our thing.”
Davis scored the game's first goal, banking in a shot off Black Hawks goalie William Lowe III nearly four minutes into the first period.
Antonio Esposito tied the game in the second with a slapshot. Gilliland scored the game-winning goal eight minutes later, with a knuckling shot that snuck high past Lowe.
“They outworked us the whole game,” McVay said. “We were looking to outwork them. We outworked them for maybe two of the 51 minutes.”
Bethel Park (4-2) made some progress playing without its goalie late. Kruszewski scored with 42 seconds left and Spencer Bawcom cut the deficit to one goal 33 seconds later.
Butler still got what it was a looking for: some early-season momentum.
“We told the guys before we came into this game that we have an opportunity,” Hammonds said. “This was an opportunity for us to make a statement to the PIHL that we're here and have a real shot at this thing. They came out and proved it tonight.”