Ford City hockey squad clips Greensburg Salem
According to Ford City hockey coach Doug Anthony, few players elevate their games when it matters most quite like Sabers forward Jesse Valasek.
Valasek’s hat trick and four-point effort led Ford City to a 5-3 victory over Greensburg Salem in Open Class play Thursday at Belmont Ice Complex.
The victory extended Ford City’s winning streak — which began Nov. 17 — to 12 in a row.
“Jesse’s a big-game player,” Anthony said. “He likes taking the team and having everyone follow his lead. He did it tonight.”
Added Valasek: “It always feels good (to score a hat trick). You never get tired of it, especially against a team like that, a great team.”
Ford City (14-2-1) avenged a 3-2 loss to Greensburg Salem (13-5) on Oct. 31. Valasek said revenge motivated the Sabers.
“You always look to beat those teams that beat you,” he said. “You always have that fire to do well and take them down.”
Valasek opened the scoring on the power play at 10:54 of the first period. After receiving a pass from his brother, Kevin, Jesse flew down the left wing, skating around the Lions’ defense and slotting the puck past goaltender Andrew Boschert.
Early in the second period, in a theme consistent in the game, Greensburg Salem delivered a counterpunch. Prolific goal-scorer Sean Beichner tallied his 46th goal of the season with a slick wrist shot, leveling the score at 1-1.
Ford City went back in front with a pair of second-period goals from the pair of Valaseks — first from Kevin and then from Jesse.
Again, Greensburg Salem answered, this time on the power play through Regis Garris, making the score 3-2 after two periods.
“Greensburg, they never let up,” Anthony said. “They’re kind of built like our team. They’re always coming at you.”
Ford City’s Bradley Peltz capitalized on a goal-mouth scramble 3:30 into the third period to extend the Sabers’ lead back to two.
Moments later, Greensburg Salem attempted to counter gain, but Sabers goaltender Zachary Latorre came up big. Capitalizing on a bad Ford City line change, Lions forward Shawn Sperlik found himself with a clean breakaway, and only Latorre in his path. He fired a snap shot, but Latorre made a key save.
“That was huge,” Anthony said. “If they score a goal on that bad line change, that changes the whole flow of the game.”
Jesse Valasek completed his hat trick minutes later, scoring in a similar fashion to his first.
Garris added a late goal for the Lions to add a little bit of drama in the final seconds, but it wasn’t enough.
The first time in Ford City’s past six games, the Sabers led by fewer than three goals heading into the third period ,and it was the Sabers’ narrowest margin of victory since their winning streak began.
To Anthony, the competition was a welcome change of pace.
“We’ve had some pretty easy games the last six weeks here, and we needed this tonight,” he said. “We had to see the character of this team, what they’re made of. And they showed it. It was a good game for us.”