Kids give their all in loss to Parkland
Northampton head hockey coach Brian Ruff and his club recently walked away from a 5-4 loss to Parkland in the Lehigh Valley Scholastic Hockey League (LVSHL) championship game without any regrets.
"What a great hockey game," boasted Ruff. "It was the best losing game I have ever been involved with. It was just back and forth all night, and it truly was a game that neither team deserved to lose."
The Kids, who entered the contest on a five-game winning streak, rallied back from three deficits to tie the game against undefeated Parkland, but they eventually fell even after scoring after an empty net goal on Parkland in the final minute. Parkland (13-0-0) defeated the Kids twice during the regular season.
Parkland took a quick lead before the Kids tied it later in the first on a power play goal from Chris Croll, who was assisted by Ryan Dequintal. The Kids scored their own quick goal to start the second and take a 2-1 lead thanks to Derrick Wruble. But Parkland would tie it just over a minute later and then take the lead later in the second, 3-2.
The Trojans would add to their lead in the opening stages of the third period to make it 4-2 before Eric Tanczos struck on the power play to make it 4-3 less than a minute later. Matt Emerick and Wruble assisted on the goal.
Parkland would extend it's lead to 5-3 on an empty netter before Wruble cut it to 5-4 with just four seconds left.
Wruble, who was the team's leading scorer (17 goals, 11 assists, 28 points), overall, finished with a pair of goals and added an assist for the Kids, who finished with an overall 6-7-2 mark and a fourth-place finish in the newly revamped league that has been comprised of one division instead of two previous ones (Non-Pure and Pure).
Ruff, who coached his team to a Non-Pure Championship last season, knew his team and their opponents left everything on the ice.
"After the game, no one had the energy to get undressed," he said of his team. "They gave everything they had. As a coach, that's all you can ask for. We walked up with our heads up. We worked as hard as we could and their team did the same thing. I saw their locker room door was open and they had the same look as our kids."
Ruff also was pleased to hear positive praise from the opposition.
"Their coach complimented our kids saying we are the only team that really comes to play against them," stated Ruff. "The other teams are playing not to lose. We're here to win and we come at them."
The veteran coach also reflected how the season was another season within itself.
"We really had a tale of two seasons," he noted. "We started off by not doing too many things right, but we managed to get everything together in the nick of time. We looked like a better team and became a better team."
Ruff will lose a number of players to graduation, but he is confident his team can retool with a solid junior varsity and youth program in place.
"We do have a good bunch of kids coming back," he said. "Our JV team went 10-2 this season and those guys are ready to move up the ladder. We had two youth teams for the first time this winter, and we'll have two again next year."
Ruff also expects an influx of players when the Adirondack Phantoms move to Allentown next year. He also was very grateful for the support the entire program received all season.
"The parents and fans were always there for us," he stressed. "We really appreciate how the parents stuck with us and were always there. We're looking to have more interest in the program and the league when the Phantoms start playing next year.
"Right now, our program is in very good shape."