WILKES-BARRE — Pittston Area and Wyoming Area have been rivals for a long time. On Dec. 27, the two took the phrase, “giving them the cold shoulder,” quite literally during the annual Casey Classic at the Toytota Sportsplex.
This time, though, Pittston Area iced the victory.
The Patriots skated away with a 6-4 decision over Wyoming Area on Sunday morning for their second win of the tournament, and in the process gained some payback for a 7-1 loss to the Warriors the last time the teams met at Mohegan Sun Arena.
Despite the fact that Wyoming Area was the first to break through with a goal from Ethan Crake, Pittston Area roared back to score three goals in the first period. The Patriots took control of the game in the first and spent a lot of time in the offensive zone.
Much like in Pittston Area’s first game of the tournament, forward Joey Langdon helped to lead the offensive charge. With a goal and two assists in their first game, a 6-3 victory over Holy Redeemer, and another two points (1G-1A) during Sunday’s game against the Warriors, Langdon praised his linemates for setting him up for success.
“Everyone helps out,” he said. “Tommy Schwab helps me out a lot, he’s one of the guys who gives me a lot of passes. Henry [Augenstein] does that too. They are just great linemates to have and we as a team have been working really well together during the Casey this year. We know what to do now that we have a more veteran team and that helps us to know that we can rely on each other to accomplish our goal of going all the way this year.”
The Patriots have really received a little something from everyone on the squad so far in the tournament, with 10 of the 17 rostered skaters finding their way onto the score sheet with either a goal or an assist.
Helping to anchor the back end of the ice has been the defensive one-two punch of Geoffrey Walton and Ryan Flanagan. The two offensive threats have combined for three goals and four assists over the two games played so far.
Flanagan, who tallied a goal and an assist in Sunday’s win over the Warriors, said that he hopes to carry the momentum of these wins into the remaining games of the tournament.
“I think that beating the teams early on will help us out,” the senior defenseman said. “Hopefully that will help to intimidate the teams that we’ve played and if we face them again in the playoffs it will be a struggle to play against us.”
The Pittston Area players seem to be happy with the start they’ve had to this year’s tournament, but head coach Mike Langdon said there is still a lot of hockey to be played between now and Wednesday.
“It gives us a lot of confidence, but we are still not in the playoffs until the final whistle,” he said. “We are not going to take our foot off the gas, we are going to keep on going, playing as a whole team. We showed what we have here today and I believe that we can run with the best of them. We did last year. We weren’t on anybody’s radar, but we came home the runner-up.”
The Patriots controlled the majority of the first period, but seemed to lose footing near the end of the second and beginning of the third period. During that time, Wyoming Area scored two back-to-back goals from Ethan Crake, his second, and Aaron Dobbs. Langdon let it be known that he conveyed the message of not letting up to the players between the second and third period.
“We got lax,” the Pittston Area coach said. “We got comfortable where we were with the lead. I told them that it’s our game and that we all needed to turn it up. Everybody stepped up to answer the call, I put in some of the younger kids to help get the first and second lines a little bit of a rest and we went from there.”
Wyoming Area head coach Bill Weiss insisted one loss isn’t going to deter the Warriors from their goal of winning the tournament.
“If we can play like we played the last period and a half in this game for the rest of the tournament, I feel like we can skate with the best of them,” Weiss said. “We face Back Mountain next and I let the players know that this is our playoffs now. If we can win against them it will show us how far we have come. We will play Holy Redeemer for the first time this season on Monday so we still have a chance at the playoffs. If we can keep our heads in the game and play like we are supposed to play, we’ll be fine.”
With Wyoming Area winning the last matchup and Pittston Area taking this game, it sort of sets the table for the upcoming Blue/Gold rivalry game that the two play every year. Although the games between the two this season have each had a different outcome, one thing remains the same. The rivalry between the Patriots and Warriors will live on.
“We have a huge rivalry,” Flanagan said as his eyes lit up. “Every game we play is a battle and it’s great to be their rivals. This is my senior year, so I really want to get the win for Pittston Area this year. If we could do that it would be great.”
In the second game on Tuesday, the second- and third-seeded teams of Pittston Area and Crestwood clashed with the Comets coming out on top 9-4.
Crestwood claimed the Casey Classic Championship Trophy for the second year in a row as they defeated Wyoming Area 7-3 on Wednesday night at the Toyota Sportsplex.
Reach Russell Hryvnak at 570-991-6401 or on Twitter @TLRussHryvnak