The Bucks gave top-ranked Valley West all it could handle before finally falling 7-5 in NEPASHL action

Dozens of diehard fans journeyed to Revolution Ice Centre in Pittston Friday evening to bid a fond farewell to seven stellar student/athletes.

Jon Rutledge, Ean Hibian, Bryan Becker, Devin Landolfi and Vincent DeAngelis laced up the skates one last time in regular season NEPASHL action.

These talented skaters (along with Dalton Winot and Jeff Alderfer) were honored in pre-game ceremonies prior to the opening face-off against Wyoming Valley West.

"Every one of these kids has done a ton for the program," said Coach Lance Landolfi. "They're great kids and very talented hockey players. We're going to miss them all when they finally move on."

Valley West leapt out to a 2-0 lead with a pair of first period power play goals and actually built what seemed to be an insurmountable 4-1 advantage.

However, Paupack staged a furious comeback in the final two stanzas. Led by a hat trick from Rutledge, the Bucks closed the gap to just one goal before finally absorbing a tough 7-5 loss.

With this setback, Paupack's overall record fell to 7-6-0 on the season. The Bucks are awaiting make-up games to see just where they stand in the NEPASHL playoff picture.

"This is a scrappy team," Coach Landolfi said.

"These kids never give up and the seniors are a huge part of that. When it gets to crunch time, the seniors are out there on the ice."

Stay tuned to The News Eagle for continuing coverage of Paupack in its playoff title quest.

A Tall Order

Valley West is hip-deep in a battle for the 2012-13 NEPASHL crown.

The first time the Bucks and Spartans played, the game went right down to the wire. Sadly for local fans, Paupack dropped a 5-4 decision in that one.

"Hey, when we're at full strength, I think we can play with anybody," Coach Landolfi said. "If we can keep a game close into the third period, we stand a good chance of winning."

On Friday night, Valley West struck twice in the opening stanza with a pair of power play goals.

Paupack goaltender Isaac Syre was peppered with shots all night long, but still managed to keep his team in the game.

"Isaac has come a long way since he first started playing," Coach Landolfi said of his sophomore. "He is on his way to being one of the best goalies in the entire league."

Offensively, DeAngelis got Paupack on the board with an even strength goal early in the second.

Valley West wasted no time in retaliating. The Spartans closed out the period with two more goals and a 4-1 lead.

Fighting Back

Paupack ratcheted up its offensive attack in the third, thanks in large part to the play of Rutledge.

Jonathan lit the lamp for the first time less than a minute into the stanza.

This unassisted goal was followed by two more, one assisted by Tristan Hefty and the other by Becker.

Rutledge's hat trick gave Paupack fans hope, but the Spartans sealed the deal on this one with one last tally at the 4:00 mark.

Valley West outshot the Bucks by a margin of 32-21. However, Syre turned away one enemy rush after another en route to 22 saves.

Score by Periods...

PAU (7-6-0) 0 1 4 - 5

VW (13-0-0) 2 2 3 - 7