Determination. A term that is quickly becoming the definition of the Gettysburg hockey 2012-13 season. The past seasons have been a little disappointing for Gettysburg. They lost in the conference championship in back-to-back years and then last season they did not make the conference playoffs for the first time in ten years. But despite all the talent those previous teams had, they seemed to be missing one small element. Drive. This year, this Bullet team, is determined to find a way to win at all cost. This was more than evident in Saturday's game against Millersville University.
Last season Millersville beat Gettysburg in both matchups and went on to lose in the conference championship to TCNJ. They were once again off to a good start this season as they had not lost except in overtime to Princeton. So Gettysburg knew if they did not show up for this matchup it would not go well. Unfortunately that was how it looked early.
After the elongated warm up process, the starting lineups, and the anthem was sung (very well by the way), the puck dropped on this matchup. The game did not start off in favor of the Bullets. It is not that the Bullets were dominated or did not control most of the play, they just could not execute through the neutral zone. This allowed Millersville to gain Gettysburg's zone on a number of occasions and just before the midway point of the period a player was left all alone in front of sophomore goaltender Jon Lipshutz and he put it home for the 1-0 Millersville lead. Minutes later Gettysburg was given their first penalty of the evening. The penalty kill had done well lately, however on this kill, there was a bad line change led to a breakaway for Millersville leading scorer and he put it home for the early 2-0 lead. Gettysburg was able to generate a few chances but could not capitalize. They hoped to return to their game in the second.
However, as the second period started, it looked even worst than the first. Gettysburg was giving the puck away and was not winning the battles for the puck. Less than two minutes in, Millersville was able to capitalize again. Minutes later the Bullets were still running around and not playing defensively and it looked like Millersville was going to go up 4-0 when they tapped in another, but the referee lost sight of it and disallowed the goal. Perhaps this was the gift Gettysburg needed to get back in to it. But instead they continued to take penalties and they were down on a 5-on-3 late in the period. They killed off one and were on the way to killing off the second when Millersville took a shot and tipped it past Lipshutz for now the solid 4-0 lead. The Bullets looked crushed. The coaching staff called a time out and the Bullets were called out on their play. They knew they could be 100 times better than they were playing and they needed to now dig down to get back in this game. Instead of going for the tic-tac-toe plays Gettysburg simply needed to grind out and win the small battles and just put some goals in the net. The timeout seemed to spark some life in to the Bullets as minutes later, sophomore Mike Berestecky was behind the net and fed a pass out front to linemate sophomore Zak Kennedy who was wide open and did not miss. The Bullets still trailed by 3 goals heading in to the final period.
Gettysburg came out flying in the third and dominated most of the play early. However, they could still not find the back of the net and time was running out to overcome the three goal deficit. To make matters worse, Gettysburg went shorthanded midway through the period, not by one man but two. The long 5-on-3 could have proved demoralizing if Millersville scored, but Lipshutz and the penalty killers were determined to give the team a chance to win the game. They did just that as they killed off the 5-on-3 and had to get back to their offense as there was less than nine minutes left on the clock. Their penalty kill efforts were awarded with a powerplay of their own and if they wanted any chance at this game they needed to get one here. After a few chances, Millersville cleared the puck but sophomore, Matt Kuhl took it in the neutral zone, broke in to the Millersville zone and cut to the middle and ripped a wrist shot past the goaltender to pull within two. Now with about six minutes remaining, Kuhl dumped the puck in again and defensive partner, junior Garrett Flasinski beat Millersville to the puck and kept it down low, as the puck popped out front, Flasinksi again took the puck from two Millersville players turned and fired it past the goaltender for the 4-3 score. All the momentum was clearly in Gettysburg's favor and despite Millersville taking a timeout, Gburg kept pouring it on. Gettysburg outshot Millersville in the final period 18 to 9, even with being down on a 5-on-3. In addition, Gburg was awarded a powerplay late in the game. So with just over a minute remaining, they pulled their goaltender and went up 6-on-4. With the time winding down, senior Brett Clarke carried the puck in to Millersville zone and tipped to set up the powerplay. But instead he took a hard wrist shot on net that handcuffed the goaltender and it bounced giving a rebound to freshman Brad Bourne who cut in back door from the point and he put it home tying the game with .35 seconds remaining on the clock. Gettysburg held on and this game was heading to overtime.
So far this season Gettysburg had the advantage of the overtime record as Gettysburg beat TCNJ weeks earlier, and Millersville lost to Princeton the previous week. In addition all of the momentum was in Gettysburg's favor and they were determined to complete this amazing comeback. Two minutes in to the overtime, Kuhl hit a nice stretch pass to freshman Josh Pettengill, who broke in and ripped a high wrist shot off the shoulder of the goaltender and once again it bounced out for a nice rebound and Flaskinski was once again out hustled the Millersville defense and grabbing the rebound and burying it for to complete the epic comeback, 5-4.
It was the greatest display of determination and drive shown by a Gettysburg hockey team in recent history. Despite not getting much help early, Lipshutz stood strong down the stretch and allowed the Bullets to get back in to the game by stopping 43 shots on the night. The undefeated Bullets continue their conference play next week by taking on Muhlenberg and Susquehanna. Thank you to all the parents and fans who made the trip to Lancaster and pushed the Bullets to the victory. We also need to thank Millersville hockey for webcasting the game. The game can be seen on replay here: http://www.justin.tv/villehockey/b/337118130
Game Tying Goal Video: