By Mike Dougherty
YORKTOWN It’s already been a long year for Lakeland/Panas.
There was a surge of adrenaline in the opening minutes, but the Rebels were not able to keep up with a nationally-ranked Yorktown team that was almost too polite Saturday during a 14-2 win that kept the Murphy Cup in the hands of the Huskers.
In the end, it was still a big moment.
“Their record never matters,” Yorktown defenseman Austin Fusco said. “Coming into the game, we know they’re going to be pumped up to play us. All they want is to take the cup from us. Coming from Yorktown, you never want to let that happen to you, so definitely, the emotions ran high and they always will in this game.”
Rebels goalie Mike Zingaro was under fire within seconds, and left after three quarters with 21 saves. A couple of them belonged on a highlight reel.
“We did OK,” Huskers coach Dave Marr said. “It wasn’t our best effort, and in terms of finishing, it was sloppy at the start. We picked it up. Zingo played a very good game, but we didn’t get frustrated and kept shooting, which is nice to see.”
Yorktown (12-1) didn’t get on the board until Nick Mariano fed Brian Prestreau for an extra-man goal with 4:11 to play in the first. And there was a quick answer. Brian Prunty scored in transition off a Jim Flaherty setup.
The momentum evaporated in the final 80 seconds of the quarter. Mariano rolled back and got the Huskers in front, then Nick Del Bene rushed in and made it a 3-1 advantage. Each time the Rebels (3-10) forced the issue, they lost possession of the ball.
“We kept throwing passes into places they shouldn’t be,” Prunty said. “They knocked them down and were quickly up and going the other way.”
Prestreau got the second of his five goals in the first minute of the second quarter, and Yorktown was feasting at the faceoff X as Danny Manning and Luke Palmadesso worked their pinch-and-pop magic.
They were a combined 15-3.
“It was kind of a major part of the game, those possessions,” said Manning, who also scored to make it a 5-1 cushion. “Once we get those possessions we’re going to wear the defense out and we’re going to keep sticking them.”
Prestreau is a creating scoring chances with speed, and the lead grew when he split a pair of defenders with 8:46 to go in the half. It was 8-1 at the intermission after Connor Vercruysse and Mariano threw in goals.
“I’ve been working hard in practice, we all have,” Prestreau said. “My speed (is making a big) difference. I can just run around people now instead of just trying to go through them.”
Mariano finished with two goals and four assists, while Vercruysse had three goals. Kevin Prunty scored the other Rebels goal.
“We like to win this game for the people who played here in the past,” Prestreau said. “And for Mr. Murph, especially. Most of us did meet him, but we were extremely young, so I don’t think we remember. We hear the stories about him from the coaches and from the guys who played here in the past.”