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January 3, 2006 > Blackhawks refuse to be tied again

Blackhawks refuse to be tied again

December 27

When the West Valley Wolves scored a five-on-three power play goal with 5:53 left in the game to even the score at 1-1, the Santa Clara Blackhawks had to feel like yesterday's 1-1 tie was coming back to haunt them. But then Billy Kiernan told his teammates on the bench that "this game is not ending in a tie" and the rally cry was set. His teammates met the challenge when Jason Pacheco slipped home his fifth game-winning goal of the year at the 3:51 mark. Pacheco was joined on the scoresheet by Patrick Castagna (one goal and one assist), Vitto Gagliardi (one goal), Kyle Yedlicka (two assists), and Kyle Nunn (one assist). Devon Luna was once again stellar between the pipes, gobbling up 20 of the 21 shots he faced.

This contest was scoreless through the first period. Devon Luna came up with a nice save on a short, two-on-one at 2:30, and then added a sharp save while the Blackhawks were on a penalty kill at 1:39. Santa Clara's best scoring chance came on a two-on-one of their own, with Kyle Yedlicka passing to Patrick Castagna. But Castagna was denied at 0:46.

In the second period, West Valley smelled blood and they worked hard to capitalize on their energy. But Devon Luna was up to the challenge, particularly during a frenzied attack around the net near the 7:05 mark. Santa Clara got into penalty trouble in the period and West Valley earned a 0:37, two-man advantage at 6:28. Patrick Castagna, Billy Kiernan and Derek Fredericks took the ice and stemmed the tide, killing the first penalty and gaining a fourth skater. Devon Luna did his part, making two saves including one that he gloved and held at 5:48.

Then, lighting struck in the form of Patrick Castagna. A strong forecheck by Nick Costa enabled Kyle Yedlicka to get to a loose puck behind his own net. Yedlicka fed Castagna breaking out of the zone and Castagna made nifty move in the neutral zone to get behind the defense. Castagna marched in on the netminder and waited patiently before zipping one past him at 4:58. Kyle Yedlicka picked up the lone assist on Castagna's shorthanded goal. When the teams returned to even strength, Santa Clara put on more pressure, but good chances from Mitch Venosta at 4:12 and 3:50 were denied.

Holding onto a slim 1-0 lead, Santa Clara looked to earn an insurance goal in the final period. Mitch Venosta had the best chance in the first half of the period, gaining an opening and delivering a good shot at 8:22 that was stopped. As the minutes passed, the Blackhawks focused on securing the slim lead that they had. But when they picked up two minor penalties after a giveaway led to a near breakaway chance at 6:56, the door swung wide open for West Valley. Patrick Castagna, Billy Kiernan and Brian Quirolo took the ice to meet the two-minute, 3-on-5 challenge and they did a fine job, killing more that half of the penalties before the Wolves scored on a nice shot off the post at 5:53.

The Hawks killed the balance of the second penalty and then put their game faces on in an effort to regain the lead. It took them just another 1:05 to make it happen. The play was set into motion when Kyle Nunn dug loose a puck behind the Wolves' net and fed it out into the slot to Jason Pacheco. Pacheco moved away from the net looking for an opening and then let a seemingly harmless wrister go that found an opening through a perfectly-timed Mitch Venosta screen right in front of the net. The go-ahead goal came at 3:51 and Santa Clara then ran out the clock, adding an empty netter from Vitto Gagliardi at 0:08.

The Blackhawks' next contest has them pitted against the Channel Islands Riptide, another club battling for second place in SCAHA's Midget-A Division. The Riptide shut out the Blackhawks' B team in their opener, 4-0.

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