Countless times over the years, Joey Gerace and Ryan Pascarella have teamed up to win games for the Jamestown Lakers.
Friday night, the pair shined for the Southern Tier Xpress.
Pascarella made 40 saves, including several during a frantic 6-on-3 power play in the closing minutes, and Gerace had a goal and an assist as the Xpress blanked the Pittsburgh Vengeance, 2-0, in NA3HL East Division action at Northwest Arena.
“It was a great feeling with those boys out there. It was a complete team effort,” Pascarella said in between signing autographs in the arena lobby following the game. “The work we’ve been putting in since training camp really shows in a game like tonight.”
Southern Tier looked to have the game in hand midway through the final period when Pittsburgh’s Austin Martz took a 5-minute major for charging, but an Xpress penalty during the middle of the advantage killed any momentum the hosts may have gained.
“The kid was frustrated going to the net and he draws a five-minute major. Fortunately they took a penalty which allowed us to get some momentum back,” Pittsburgh coach Dave Dorsey said. “We had the puck in their zone, we just can’t put it in the net. Give them credit, they blocked a lot of shots and their goalie played excellent.”
Still training 2-0 late, Pittsburgh pulled its goalie after Southern Tier’s Ty Rickabaugh took a cross-checking penalty giving the winless Vengeance a 6-on-4 power play.
Just 11 seconds into the power play, Southern Tier’s Luke Grossman took a post-whistle roughing penalty giving the visitors a three-man advantage with their goaltender sitting on the bench.
“I just trusted my teammates. They give everything to me and I try to give whatever I have back to them,” Pascarella said. “I just believed they’d get the puck out of the zone and we’d work through it. You get glimpses of the puck, but my defenders do a great job of pushing those guys out or blocking the shot.”
Pascarella stood tall, tracking the puck through two or three Pittsburgh players in front of the net and the three Xpress defenders did a good job of keeping the puck to the outside and blocking shots when needed. The Vengeance were unable to solve Pascarella, the Lakewood native making his first start of the young season.
“Pascy did a great job tonight. He stood strong, controlled his rebounds, covered everything – just a phenomenal job,” Southern Tier coach Brian Ramm said. “We hadn’t started him yet and I felt like he needed a start. It was his turn and he got the job done.”
Southern Tier improved to 2-2 with the win while Pittsburgh fell to 0-5, having scored just six goals in its opening five games.
“That was a much-needed win,” Gerace said. “We had a pretty big rivalry with Pittsburgh last year and we felt like they stole a couple from us. Pascy played his head off. It was great to get that ‘W.'”
The Xpress controlled play for most of the first two periods, using their speed and a two-man forecheck to keep the Vengeance from sustaining any offensive pressure.
“The small guys are quick. They lack a little bit of meat on their bones so when they check it’s not as hard as the big guys,” Ramm said. “The pressure forces the D to make a bad play or a rushed play and that allows you to capitalize. When we were five on five we were definitely stronger.”
Southern Tier was rewarded for its good play with 8:24 left in the opening frame. Defenseman Eriq Schau moved the puck up ice to Gerace who worked a two-on-one with teammate Cameron Pries. Pries took the puck to the goaltender’s right, spun around and found Gerace streaking to the net with a perfect pass. The Jamestown native had no problem beating Pittsburgh goaltender Joel De Simone for the 1-0 lead.
“I was not expecting that. He spun around and I thought he was going to shoot,” Gerace said about the play by Pries. “Next thing I know it’s on my stick and it’s in the net.”
With 3:02 left in the second period, the Xpress struck again. A Pittsburgh defenseman lost control of the puck at the Southern Tier blueline and the Xpress broke out three on two. Gerace gained the zone and dropped a pass to Schau at the point. The defenseman one-timed the puck toward the net where Matthew Crosby deflected it out of midair past De Simone for the 2-0 lead.
“One goal is not enough. It’s an unlucky bounce or a fluke and it’s a tie game,” Gerace said about the second goal. “To go up two was huge for us.
“We are going to lay our lives out for each other this year,” Gerace added. “That’s what really separates us from how we were as a team last year. Every guy in the locker room will give whatever it takes for the guy sitting next to him. We laid it all out there and it showed on the scoreboard.”
NOTES: Pascarella was named the game’s First Star while Gerace was the Second Star and Schau was the Third Star. Pittsburgh finished 0 for 13 on the power play while Southern Tier was 0 for 7. De Simone made 43 saves on 45 Southern Tier shots. The same two teams meet today at Pittsburgh’s Alphia Ice Complex at 6:30 p.m.
Original article by Post-Journal.,