HATFIELD— For roughly a decade now, Central Bucks South has set the standard against which the rest of the Suburban High School Hockey League is measured. On Thursday night, the Titans showed they still hold that distinction although it took them some time to do so.
Matt Buchinski, Nolan Geria, and Joey DeMatteo propelled Neshaminy to a 3-0 first-period lead. But the Titans woke up and scored five consecutive goals in the second period before adding two more in the third.
The 7-3 victory that resulted put South alone at the top of the SHSHL Class AA standings at 4-0 (6-0-0-1 overall). It was a win that didn’t come easily after the slow start but what transpired at Hatfield Ice Thursday night will serve as a primer for March, when both the Titans and the ‘Skins (6-2, 5-1) figure to be legitimate Flyers Cup contenders.
If there was a single moment that triggered the comeback, it might have been at the 7:02 mark of the first period following Geria’s goal when South coach Shaun McGinity called the only timeout he was permitted and delivered what would best be termed an inspirational address.
“I don’s think they deliberately came unprepared,” McGinity said of his troops. “I don’t think they overlooked Neshaminy. I don’t think they overlooked anybody or through anybody. Neshaminy has got firepower. (The Titans) just didn’t come ready to play.”
It took a while for McGinty’s message to sink in; DeMatteo put his team up 3-0 with 3:58 to play in the period.
But in the second frame, the Titans got rolling. Colin Abbonizio scored just 37 seconds into the period. Matt Milanesi made it a 3-2 game at the 3:18 mark off a feed from Dominic Patrone to complete a lovely session of tic-tac-toe. Goals from Abbonizio and Patrone followed before Abbonizio completed a hat trick at the 13:25 mark to give South a 5-3 lead.
All five goals came at even strength.
Patrone scored on a shorthanded effort 1:47 into the third period before Ryan Gingras scored a power-play goal with 8:33 left in the game.
“A lot of the (comeback effort) was from the coaches,” Abbonizio said. “They really kept us in it. We just went out there and played our game and we got seven goals.”
The Titans are young in spots this season but Abbonizio, the team’s captain, says the newcomers are taking their cues from the veterans. “The younger guys are always listening,” he said. “They’re willing to take whatever they can get from the older guys. I think their cooperation could contribute to us really going a long way.”
Neshaminy coach Matt DeMatteo noted his team couldn’t sustain its early momentum. “We had them on the ropes,” he said. “We were up 3-0 in the first period and the guys were playing the game plan. They switched some things up and we just adapt as well as I’d hoped.”
Despite the loss, the ‘Skins proved they belong on the list of the SHSHL’s upper-echelon teams. “Neshaminy’s a great team,” Abbonizio said. “They’re a great team and that’s something that we’ve told these guys. That was a playoff game right there.”
Neshaminy 3 0 0—3
C.B. South 0 5 2—7
First-period goals: Matt Buchinski (N) from Joey DeMatteo, 2:43; Nolan Geria’s (N) unassisted, 7:02; DeMatteo (N) unassisted, 12:02.
Second-period goals: Colin Abbonizio (CBS) from Brian Keilman and Matt Milanesi, :37; Milanesi (CBS) from Dominic Patrone, 3:18; Abbonizio (CBS) from David Kutcher, 4:53; Patrone (CBS) from Milanesi, 10:06; Abbonizio (CBS) from Stephen McMillan, 13:25.
Third-period goals: Patrone (CS) from Keilman, 1:47 (sh); Ryan Gingras (CBS) from Patrone, 7:27 (pp).
Shots: Neshaminy 22, C.B. South 30; Saves: Brian Nelson (N) 23, Evan Moyer (CBS) 19