The Bulldogs had little trouble in the 10-5 victory over Hopewell.
By GREG GULAS
BOARDMAN -- Robby Wyand had four goals and an assist, and Poland scored early and often as the Bulldogs concluded their regular season with a 10-5 victory over Hopewell (Pa.) on Friday at the Ice Zone.
"With this being our final regular season game, we wanted to play solid and not crazy," Poland coach Jim Cowan said. "We wanted to work on the things we've done all season long.
"We still have room for improvement, but I feel we are heading in the right direction as we look toward the playoffs next week."
With the game just 5 minutes, 32 seconds old, Poland raced to a 4-0 lead on goals by Brett Pitzulo (14:14), Wyand (12:06), C.J. Marino (11:51) and Chris Kominak (9:28).
The Bulldogs' first three shots on goal rattled the nets, and that is when Hopewell coach Doug Diyanni decided to switch goaltenders.
"With only eight players dressed, we knew that it would be tough for us tonight," Diyanni said. "We gave up some goals early and couldn't recover.
"They are a fast team and if we turned it over near the neutral zone, they were there waiting for the puck," he said. "Their speed made a big difference in the game, and it was an obstacle we could not overcome."
Pulling ahead: Brian Conforto, in just his first season on the ice, scored the next two goals for the Vikings, the second of which was unassisted at 6:25. After the first period, Poland held a 4-2 advantage.
The Bulldogs began the second period in much the same manner as the first, scoring the first three goals to take a 7-2 advantage. Louis Zamudio, Brett Pitzulo and Wyand staked Poland to a five-goal advantage before Jason Moka, who had a hat trick for the Vikings, scored the first of his three goals to cut the Bulldog lead to 7-3.
Poland led 8-3 after two periods, when Wyand scored the third of his four goals at the 1:08 mark.
Staying close: The third period belonged to the Vikings' Moka, but it was too little, too late. His two goals were sandwiched between goals by Poland's Wyand and Chris Kominak as the Bulldogs closed the regular season with a 12-10-1 mark.
"We still have some work to do prior to the playoffs," Cowan said. "Each team has beaten the other so it looks like a pretty even playoff. We'll have to be prepared if we expect to advance."
Pitzulo also added two goals and two assists for Poland, while Kominak had two goals and goalie Chad Hiznay registered 16 saves for the Bulldogs.
Hopewell fell to 20-9-3, having lost two of its past three contests.