The second half was even more fiercely contested than the previous one had been. Scranton rallied behind Hugh, and put up a savage attack that carried them up a couple of pegs, the score then standing eight to seven; but after a bit Keyport came back and tied it again. So it remained until the limit of the game approached perilously near, and it seemed as though an extension of time would have to be granted, as the rules allowed. But at the last minute, Hugh himself carried out a daring steal of the puck; and, before the opposing players could block him, shot it into their net for the winning score.
Before the players could get in position again, and the puck be faced, the whistle of the referee declared the game over, with Scranton a bare winner.
The Keyport players were plainly greatly chagrined, but they proved game losers, and had not a fault to find, shaking hands cheerfully with their late opponents, and expressing a hope that a return match could be arranged on their rink at some date not far in the future.
It was well on toward noon when Hugh, tired of skating for one day, started homeward. For a wonder he walked by himself, something Hugh seldom had happen; for if his chum Thad Stevens was not at his side, some other fellow, possibly several, would be sure to hurry so as to catch up with him.
But Thad had been compelled to go home an hour before on some account, his folks having certain plans that forced him to accompany them immediately after lunch.
Hugh was feeling a bit tired, but in good spirits, nevertheless, because of the clever victory his team had won, in which he had borne his part consistently. It always gives a boy a warm sensation around the region of his heart to realize that he has not failed those who put their faith in his ability. How many can look back with a feeling of pride to that “great day” when it was their home-run drive, or whistling three-bagger that pulled the home team out of a slump, and started a batting-bee that, eventually, won the game? Those days are marked with a red letter in the pages of memory.
When part way to town, for the athletic grounds lay outside the limits of Scranton, though not far away, Hugh suddenly discovered a familiar figure just ahead of him, which, somehow, he had not noticed up to then. It was Nick Lang. He had his skates dangling over his shoulder by a strap, and Hugh could actually catch his whistle as he strode along.
Somehow this told him Nick was feeling in higher spirits than had lately been the case. Perhaps he was beginning to feel a new confidence in himself, Hugh suspected. In the beginning Nick must have seriously doubted his ability to, as some of the boys would have called it, “come across, and deliver the goods,” when he set out to reform his ways.