High School Ice Hockey:
Wednesday, March 10, 1999
By Mike Costantino
Eastern defeated Lenape 6-4 in game two of the SJHSIHL championship series played at the TROP on Wednesday night. With the win the Vikings forced a third and deciding game to be played on Friday night at 6:30 at the Coliseum. The Vikings were paced by a well-balanced scoring attack led by Mike Becker with a goal and two assists, Adam Levenson with two goals and an assist, and Ben Orner with three assists.
Levenson gave Eastern the 1-0 lead at the halfway point of the first period as both teams played a tight checking period. Three minutes later, Jerry Reed would tie the game at 1-1 on a set-up from Jeff Bagnoli. The period would end that way with the shots on goal being even at eight apiece as well.
Mike Cianfrani gave the Vikings the lead after a mad scramble in front of goalie Sean Sheehan, who was outstanding in nets again, with Levenson and Orner assisting. Thirty seconds later Eastern would break in on a two-on-one and on a great pass from Orner. Jason Knee would knock home the goal and the Vikings led 3-1. Ken McClure would bring Lenape to within one thirty seconds later with Dan Whitlock assisting and it was a one goal game at 3-2. With the crowd now into the game, both teams had opportunities but Sheehan and Mike Keppler made several key stops. Eastern seem to take control midway through the period and, when Becker scored on the power play with John Schellenhammer assisting, the lead was back to two goals at 4-2.
Shortly after Cianfrani was stoned by Sheehan on a breakaway, Eastern kept the pressure on as Lenape had trouble clearing their zone. When Eastern went on the power play with less than two minutes to go in the period, you felt that this could be the turning point. But just like in game one when a shorthanded goal changed the complexion of the game, that's exactly what Lenape got when Jon Schnepf scored on a breakaway and the period ended 4-3.
Jeff Bagnoli would tie the game at 4-4 early in the third with Jim Davis and Jon Bianco assisting. Over the next seven minutes both teams played at a level at this age bracket that was incredible. Then with less than three minutes to go, Jason Knee would score the game winner on a great feed from Becker and Eastern led 5-4. Levenson would score into an empty net for the 6-4 final.
If you do nothing else this weekend, don't miss the final game on Friday night as the champion will be crowned and these kids deserve your support.
Photos by Gary Finigan
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