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HOCKEY: Stoney Creek can't make leads stand up, ties Eisenhower

Stoney Creek’s Chris Stanbury (22) is checked from behind by Utica Eisenhower’s Nikita Petrovskiy (19) during the third period of the game played on Friday Dec. 28, 2012 at the Onyx Ice Arena. Stanbury had a hat trick for Stoney Creek as they tied Eisenhower 4-4. (Special to the Oakland Press/KEN SWART)

Utica Eisenhower’s Eric VanSlembrouck (88) puts the puck past Rochester Stoney Creek Goaltender Maxx Grant during the second period of the game played on Friday Dec. 28, 2012 at the Onyx Ice Arena. The Eagles and Cougars tied 4-4. (Special to the Oakland Press/KEN SWART)

Utica Eisenhower goaltender Austin McArdle makes a save against Rochester Stoney forward Nolan Arbour (4) during the second period of the game played on Friday Dec. 28, 2012 at the Onyx Ice Arena. Stoney Creek tied Eisenhower 4-4. (Special to the Oakland Press/KEN SWART)

Rochester Stoney Creek Goaltender Maxx Grant makes a snow cone save during the second period of the game played on Friday Dec. 28, 2012 at the Onyx Ice Arena. The Eagles and Cougars tied 4-4. (Special to the Oakland Press/KEN SWART)

ROCHESTER — The Stoney Creek Cougars and Utica Eisenhower Eagles skated to a 4-4 tie in boys hockey action Friday night at the Rochester Holiday Showcase.

Three times, the Cougars established one-goal leads, and three times the Eagles were able to come back and forge a tie.

Stino Biondo tied the game for the final time with just 3:18 left in regulation. After Stoney Creek was whistled for too many men on the ice, the Eagles won the faceoff deep in the Cougars zone. Mike Burkhardt ripped a shot from the top of the left circle and Biondo tipped it in from just outside the crease to make it 4-4.

“The most important shift after a goal, for or against, is the next shift. And we didn’t do a good job of getting the momentum and keeping it after we scored. But to our credit, we didn’t get down and we kept getting those leads,” Stoney Creek head coach Ian Smith said.

The Eagles would have their chances to get the win late and in overtime, including a long five-on-three power play, but Stoney Creek’s penalty kill was up to the task and goaltender Maxx Grant was at his best when the team needed him most.

“He (Grant) let a soft one in for the first one, and I think he’s a competitor, and he lets one of those in he just gets madder and madder and he plays better and better. On that five-on-three we did a good job of keeping a nice tight rotation,” Smith said. “I think that was the key to the game.”

Chris Stanbury powered the Stoney Creek attack most of the night, picking up a hat trick as he scored the first three Cougar goals. After tying the game at 1-1 with 1:21 left in the first, Stanbury’s second goal gave Stoney Creek its first lead of the night when he fired a shot from his knees that found the top corner just 21 seconds into the second period. The Cougars’ lead wouldn’t last long, though, as Eric VanSlembrouck tied the game up just over a minute later. C.J. Kassley found VanSlembrouck alone in front of the net with a pass from the opposite point and VanSlembrouck executed a deft deke and backhanded the puck into the net.

“He (Stanbury) has really been doing that the last couple games. We told him he needed to step it up and put the team on his back and he’s done that the last three games. He’s our captain. He’s our leader,” Smith said. “He did a great job tonight.”

Stanbury got his hat trick early in the third when Hayden Richardson, who had two assists on the night, dug the puck out along the side boards and hit Stanbury with a centering pass for a one timer and a 3-2 lead with 11:47 left. This time the lead would last exactly one minute before the Eagles tied it up on a goal from Drew Lauer.

“We didn’t have it tonight, for whatever reason. We were always fighting from behind,” Eagles head coach Bob Hall said. “We didn’t start playing with a sense of urgency until we were down a goal every time.”

Overall, the Eagles outshot Stoney Creek 38-28 in a physical game that saw plenty of momentum shifts. Both goalies had solid nights in net as Maxx Grant made 34 saves for Stoney Creek, including seven in the overtime period. Austin McArdle made 24 saves in net for the Eagles and was the most consistent player for the Eagles on the night.

“McArdle played well in net,” Hall said. “They were applying pressure on our net. McArdle was doing well moving the puck to the corners and controlling the rebounds where he could cover it up.”

“It was a great game. It was a fun game to watch. Both teams competed hard. They’re a great team, and Bob’s got a great program over there,” Smith said.

Utica Eisenhower is now 8-1-1, while Stoney Creek improves to 3-5-1. Both teams will be back in action Saturday as the showcase continues with Stoney Creek facing Marysville at 3 p.m. and Eisenhower facing Rochester United in the nightcap at 6:30.

Last Updated: 12/28/2012 11:13:12 PM EST

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