By Josh Brown
Troy Daily News
TROY — Three weeks into the season, the Troy hockey team finally got the chance to play at home.
And the Trojans certainly put on a show.
After rallying from a two-goal deficit to force overtime before eventually falling 3-2 to Elder Saturday night, the Trojans fell behind again Sunday night against Mason, this time rallying to claim the lead and holding on for their first victory of the season, 4-3 over the Comets at Hobart Arena.
“The kids played really well and kept battling right down to the last season,” Troy coach Rick Szabo said. Szabo, who was instrumental in starting the Trojans’ hockey program, is back as the team’s head coach this season. “And that’s one of the goals for us this year is to go out and just not quit regardless of anything else. And these last few games, they’ve done that right to the last second.”
Against Elder, the Trojans (1-4-1) fell behind 2-0 after the first period. Gaven Burris and Mike McGuirk each scored a goal to tie the score and force overtime, but the Panthers were able to score in the extra period to claim the win.
Sunday’s game against Mason — which the Trojans tied earlier in the season — began in an all-too-similar fashion.
“This was the second night in a row we got down two goals early,” Szabo said. “We battled back last night and then lost in overtime. We had lots of chances last night, but tonight we were able to get that go-ahead goal and held on from there.”
Mason scored two early goals to take a 2-0 lead, only this time Troy was able to answer before the end of the first. Burris scored with roughly 3:00 remaining in the period on assists from Kellen King and Caden Lombardo, and then with 11 seconds on the clock, King scored his first varsity goal on an assist from Burris to tie the score at 2-2 after one.
The Comets tallied a power-play goal to retake the lead after two periods, but Burris tied the game at 3-3 on assists from King and Lombardo again, and with 5:18 remaining, Garrett Paff drove in the eventual game-winner, with the goal coming on assists from Kaden Mathes and McGuirk.
From there, it was a matter of preserving the lead for the Trojans, and Connor Bell held his own in goal over the final five minutes to earn his first varsity win, with the Troy defense facing pressure from Mason right up until the final buzzer.
“We killed some penalties and did a great job,” Szabo said. “Penalties will mess your lines up a little bit, especially when you’re short on numbers like we are. But the kids never quit.
“We had a faceoff right down in our end after Mason had pulled its goalie in the last few seconds. Mike McGuirk went down and blocked a slapshot right there at the end.”
Troy will take that momentum into the Dayton Mayor’s Cup tournament, which begins Friday at South Metro. The Trojans will face Beavercreek, Alter and Centerville over the course of the weekend.
“This whole weekend, the effort was there,” Szabo said. “The kids competed well, and that’s all we’re looking for at this point. You want them to compete, you don’t want them to quit, and they played really well in what was a pretty intense, exciting game Sunday night.”
Contact Troy Daily News Sports Editor Josh Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.
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