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Jeremy Ambrose had two goals and one assist and Sam Libetti added a goal and one assist as Cherokee defeated Eastern 4-3 in front of a standing room only crowd on Friday night at the Skate Zone in Voorhees. With fans lined up over one hour prior to the game, and many of them were not able to get in, the Chiefs needed this game to force a deciding game on Monday night. Eastern had gone through the tournament undefeated and needed just to win tonight to repeat as champs. Coach McKay needed a big effort from his top line and strong defense and he got both tonight. 

Cherokee, looking for a quick start, got it as Ambrose tipped a shot from the point by Hunter Ray just thirteen seconds into the game and a 1-0 lead. Cherokee launched 20 shots in the period and kept constant pressure in the offensive zone. With just over five minutes left, Max Zeligson won a face-odd and drew the puck back to Darren Ambrose and his shot through a screen found the net and a 2-0 lead. The Vikings would respond just over one minute later as Joey Arlotta converted a pass from Max Kouzetsov and the lead was 2-1. Coming into the gamer Cherokee was determined to shadow Kouznetsov and frustrate him and minimize his chances and for the most part they were very successful. 

Early in the second period the Chiefs would strike again as Ambrose set-up Libetti and the lead was 3-1 just seventeen seconds in. Ambrose made it 4-1 two minutes later on a pass from Libetti and Cherokee seemed in control at 4-1. With the period winding down Eastern desperately needed a goal and the Chiefs had a breakdown as they left Max alone in front and Conor Riley found him and that goal made it 4-2 after two. With momentum now seemingly shifting to the Vikings when Cherokee was called for a penalty Kouznetsov, would get his second of the night and suddenly it was 4-3. Eastern would get another opportunity to tie the game late as a bench minor was called on the Chiefs but they hung on for the win. 

Notes: The deciding game will be Monday night at Voorhees at 7:20. Can Cherokee dig down one more time and come up with an effort like tonight? Can Libetti, who I think had his best game overall as a Chief along with Ambrose, deliver once again? Can Max lead his team to back-to-back? All these questions will be answered come Monday night.. 

Written by Mike Costantino

Posted in: Cherokee, Eastern
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