In a conference that features solid, competitive teams throughout the three divisions, it is easy to feel like you play the most important game of the season every weekend. This weekend was no different for the Bullets.
First up was a Friday night showdown with one of the conference newcomers, and one of the season's strongest teams so far, West Chester University. With several familiar faces out of the lineup for Gettysburg, the Bullets knew they needed big contributions from everyone. The most notable personnel change was in goal. With sophomore Sam Shockley recovering from an undisclosed injury, and sophomore Jon Lipshutz dealing with an equipment malfunction, freshman Ramiz Chaudhary was pressed into emergency service.
Despite a chaotic lead-up to puck drop the Bullets managed one of their best starts. Within the first minute a scrum in front produced a rebound that freshman defenseman Brad Bourne fired home to put Gettysburg on top. After allowing West Chester to tie the game, the Bullets found themselves shorthanded, but penalty kill specialist sophomore Mike Berestecky stepped up. A blocked shot from the point came right to Berestecky who streaked in on goal and buried another shorthanded goal. West Chester answered again but just prior to the end of the first, Berestecky struck again, this time cleaning up a rebound at the side of the net.
The Bullets have been guilty of a few second period lulls this season, but not on this night. Early in the period senior Dan O'Malley and sophomore Bobby MacDonald combined for a highlight reel tic tac toe passing play that ended with senior captain Niall Hines all alone at the back door for the tap in goal. Gettysburg continued to bring pressure and beat back the West Chester attacks. Late in the second MacDonald and junior Hunter Yale found themselves on a fast break which Yale slipped in short side to extend the lead to 5-2. West Chester did get back on the score sheet before the end of the period and Gettysburg held a dangerous two-goal lead in to the third.
The Bullets concerns of another third period comeback were confirmed early in the period when West Chester closed the gap to one. After defending wave after wave of attacks and Chaudhary standing tall in front of everything that came his way, Gettysburg turned the tide near the midway point of the period. It was starting to look like Gettysburg would hold on for the victory, but with just over four minutes remaining a controversial kicked puck found its way into the net to pull West Chester even.
A spectator who was unfamiliar with this Bullets team may have worried that the momentum was in the opponents corner, but late heroics have become commonplace of late. Friday night was no exception. Hines chased down a loose puck sent a pass in front to a breaking Yale who slammed it home for his second of the night, with just three minutes remaining. The goal was not in overtime but it proved to be sudden-death for West Chester all the same. The Bullets dug deep and soundly finished this battle off.
An injury depleted line up, especially on defense, produced one of the most solid wins of the seasons, and a goalie who showed up to the rink not preparing to start, made his second collegiate start a gem, as Chaudhary turned aside 41 of the 46 shots he faced, earning player of the game honors.
With the win the Bullets improved to 9-0 in the GNCHC, but they had little time to celebrate as a date with tough, physical division rival Kutztown loomed the following afternoon.