Central York ice hockey team blanks Cumberland Valley in CPIHL playoff elimination battle

TIM GROSS
The (Carlisle) Sentinel (TNS)
Mason Steward, seen here in a file photo, had two goals on Monday in Central York's playoff victory.

HARRISBURG — Cumberland Valley goaltender Connor Halpert flagged down the floating puck with his glove after Central York's Logan Myers deflected an attempted dump-in toward the goal with 8:30 left in the second period of Monday's Central Pennsylvania Interscholastic Hockey League Bears Division playoff game at Twin Ponds Arena.

The puck, however, took a bounce, and Central York's Mason Steward pounced on it. Steward shifted his weight, and shuffled a shot under a diving Halpert to give the Panthers a 3-0 lead, a score that would stay frozen on the scoreboard until the final whistle.

Two goals from Steward, 20 saves from goaltender Braydon Hsieh and a sharp and suffocating effort from the Central York defense propelled the Panthers into the next round of the Bears Division's elimination bracket and sent the upstart Eagles into the offseason.

"We got some breaks, and we put them in," said Central York coach David Myers, "and then our defense and goalie just shut it down."

The Panthers (11-7-1-1) advance to face the Hempfield/Manheim Township medley in another elimination game scheduled for 8:15 p.m. Wednesday at York City Ice Arena. Central's back-line quartet of Kade Kohler, Andrew Guiddy, Parker Hsieh and Jaegar Witte limited the Eagles (11-6-0-4) to 16 shots over the final two periods. Central held a 32-20 edge in shots.

"We had every opportunity to get something going, but we just couldn't," Cumberland Valley coach Matthew Fitzgerald said, "It was one of those nights where we ran into a team that was playing real well and, for the life of us, we couldn't manufacture offense. It's tough."

Cumberland Valley brought pressure early in the first period, controlling the puck for long segments in Central York's zone and earning three power play chances in the first period.

But they came up empty, as Central York clogged the middle of the ice.

"We just tried to make sure their better players didn't get a lot of room out there," Myers said, "and tried to frustrate them, not give them a lot of time and space, and they did a good job of doing that tonight."

At the other end, Central York's Logan Myers opened the scoring 7:30 into the game. Controlling the puck on the right face-off circle, Myers swiveled away from the Cumberland Valley net, but once the space in between opened up, he leaned into a shot and beat Cumberland Valley goaltender Connor Halpert.

In the final minute of the first period, operating in a power play of their own, the Panthers bolstered their lead when Anthony Woodard centered a pass from behind the net to Steward, who punched it in.

"He's smart," David Myers said of Steward. "He just goes to the net, and he finds the puck."

After surrendering the third goal in the second period, Halpert kept the Eagles in the game, turning away multiple chances on odd-man rushes while his teammates searched for an offensive spark to save their season.

Halpert finished the night with 29 saves.

"He and Nick White, our two senior goaltenders, stood on their head all year for us," Fitzgerald said. "I wish there were nights where we could have done more for them, but they did everything they could to get us as far as we could."

Hempfield/Manheim Township was an 8-5 winner over Palmyra on Monday. Central opened its postseason with a 6-2 loss to Palmyra.

During the regular season, Central had a loss (6-5) and a tie (6-6) vs. Hempfield/Manheim Twp.