The Pittsburgh Vengeance traveled to Battle Creek, Michigan this past weekend to take on their East division rival the West Michigan Wolves. The Wolves currently sit in third place just 8 points behind the Vengeance for second place in the division.
The Wolves jumped out to an early 2-0 lead after one period of play in the opening game Friday night. Vengeance forward Vincent Casale responded 13 seconds into the second period with a powerplay goal assisted by Cam Williams and James Unger to cut the deficit to 2-1. West Michigan added another tally midway through the second frame to take a 3-1 lead after two periods of play. The Wolves managed to hold Pittsburgh off the board for the third and added an empty net goal to seal a 4-1 victory and strike first blood in the two game series. Joel De Simone stopped 28 out of 31 in net for Pittsburgh in defeat.
“They played hard and were the heavier team, quite frankly they wanted it more,” said Coach Dorsey. “We self destructed in the third period instead of trying to battle back, too many guys with their own agendas.”
Pittsburgh went into the Saturday matinee trying to salvage the split in game two of the series. West Michigan had other plans, as they jumped all over the Vengeance for an early 2-0 lead. Austin Martz scored a big short handed goal to turn the tide and cut the Wolves lead to 2-1. Casale notched his second of the weekend to even the score at 2-2 after one period of play with assists going to Cam Smith and Nolan Puhala. West Michigan scored first in the second, making the score 3-2 before Pittsburgh erupted for 4 goals to take a 6-3 lead late into the second period. Casale squared the game at 3-3 with a powerplay goal assisted by Cam Williams and Gavin Cummings, then Williams would put Pittsburgh up 4-3 with an assist going to Ryan Loebig. Williams added his second of the game to put the Vengeance up 5-3 with an assist going to Nick Lyon. Justin Shepherd made a nice chip off the wall to Thomas Polster to set up a 2 on 1 with Dom Glavach, Glavach buried the Polster dish to put the Vengeance up 6-3 late in the second. The Wolves managed another goal late in the second period after a Pittsburgh power play to cut the deficit to 6-4.
“That goal late was totally inexcusable and should never happen especially with how good of a second period that was for us,” said Coach Dorsey.
The Wolves scored late with the goalie pulled to make it 6-5 but the Vengeance were able to hold on for the victory. Joel De Simone made 31 saves on 36 shots in the net for Pittsburgh to pick up the victory.
“Great second period, Shepard gave us real good minutes on defense, Williams and Casale had nice games up front but if we don’t tighten up defensively as a group its going to be a long season,” stated Coach Dorsey after the game.
Pittsburgh will host the undefeated Metro Jets on Saturday at the Alpha Ice Complex with a 6:30pm puck drop, then travel to Wooster to take on the Oilers on Sunday afternoon.