While the Elizabethtown Area High School ice hockey club isn’t getting blown out in all of its games anymore, the Bears are still hunting for more than just one victory this season. Despite playing competitively in all of their outings thus far, they’ve yet to earn a second.
The team faced off against Annville-Cleona at Klick Lewis Arena in Palmyra on Monday, Dec. 2, in the first game following the Thanksgiving break. It was slow-moving for both sides for the majority of the first period. Elizabethtown had just five shots on goal, while the Dutchmen had 12. Finally, with just over four minutes left in the period, Jeremy Seyfert was able to score via a slap shot off an assist from Kayden Freeman to put A-C up 1-0.
The Bears were able to tie it up early in the second when Austin DiPofi took a pass from Liam Hanley and fired a shot toward the goal, with Carter Lutter collecting the rebound and knocking the puck into the net. The Dutchmen went back up in bizarre fashion with just 14.2 seconds on the clock when an Owen Brinkley shot ricocheted straight up, landing across the line to give them a 2-1 lead.
A-C used a brother combination to increase its advantage just over a minute into the third, with Kameron Freeman hooking up with Kayden Freeman for a goal. Elizabethtown did manage to cut it to 3-2 midway through the period when Kayla Myers forced a turnover and found an open Avery Merlo, however.
With five minutes to go, the Bears had a prime opportunity to tie the game on a power play, but the Dutchmen defense, headed by goalie Alex Lingle (20 saves), withstood the attack. Kayden Freeman would add an insurance goal off a Seyfert assist shortly afterward, and when Elizabethtown pulled out Kaden Rhyder (26 saves) for a last gasp scoring opportunity late, he scored on an empty netter, clinching a 5-2 victory for A-C.
While the Bears are much improved this year after back-to-back winless seasons, one weak point has been their defensive struggles in crunch time. They’ve allowed 12 goals in the third period through seven games, 10 of them coming in the past three games.
Now 1-5-1 in the standings, Elizabethtown was set to return to Klick Lewis Arena for a rematch against Susquehannock on Wednesday, Dec. 4. The two teams tied 4-4 in the season opener. The Bears will then go to Twin Ponds East in Harrisburg on Monday, Dec. 9, for a game against the Keystone Kraken, which features players from Boiling Springs, Camp Hill, Carlisle, Chambersburg, East Pennsboro, Mechanicsburg, Northern York, Shippensburg, Trinity and West Perry.