Ice Hockey: Pennsbury Comes up Just Short in Classic PA Cup Title Game

Pennsbury came up just short in its bid for a state title in Saturday’s PA Cup final. Photo courtesy of Tracy Valko. To visit the photo gallery, click on the following link:


The message on the scoreboard at the final horn of Saturday’s Pennsylvania Cup contest said South Fayette defeated Pennsbury 7-4.

That, however, didn’t begin to tell the story of the classic battle waged between the Penguin Cup champion Lions and the Flyers Cup champion Falcons in the state title game on the campus of Robert Morris University.

“It was an incredible game,” coach Ryan Daley said. “In all reality, they won by one. It was tied (4-4) with two-and-a-half minutes left.”

That’s when Wes Schwarzmiller connected on a shot from an impossible angle just below the circle that somehow found the net over the glove of Aaron McDaniel to give South Fayette a 5-4 lead. That highlight reel goal turned out to be the game-winner.

“I was talking to my assistant coach, Mike (Hlatky) – that’s the best shot I’ve ever seen in a high school hockey game,” Daley said. “I was watching him in warmups, and immediately his shot stood out. That shot is unmatched. He is so quick with the amount of power behind it. It’s a goal you can’t do anything about it. It was a goal scorer’s goal.

“Hats off to them. I think they played a great game. I think they were very comparable to us, and that’s why it was such a good game.”

South Fayette added two goals in the final minute-and-a-half – the first on a two-on-one when the Falcons were pressing to score and the second an empty net goal.

The game was a roller coaster of emotions for both squads. The Falcons took an early 2-0 lead – getting on the scoreboard three minutes into the first period when Brendan Macainsh scored on the follow of a shot by Logan Doyle. The second by Justin Marlin (Macainsh assist) was a shorthanded goal with the Falcons down two players with 5:40 remaining in the period.

That short-handed goal, however, seemed to light a fire in the Lions, who answered with back-to-back power play goals in a span of just over a minute to knot the score with 4:25 remaining. A South Fayette shorthanded goal with 2:31 remaining gave the Lions a 3-2 lead at the end of two periods.

“Scoring when you’re down 5 on 3 was big,” Daley said. “They came back and scored when it was 5 on 3, but nobody was too shook up by that because it was 5 on 3. When they tied it, that definitely took the wind out of the sails a little, and you could tell, but then they ended up putting two more on us.

“We also gave up a shorthanded goal in that span, which was not ideal. We typically have a very good penalty kill, and when we gave up a short-handed goal, it definitely hurts.”

South Fayette’s lead grew to 4-2 when Schwarzmiller scored an unassisted goal two-and-a-half minutes into the second period.

“We took that timeout,” Daley said. “In hindsight, I would have liked to have had one in the third, but I think we had to take that timeout just to reset, and they came out and played flawless hockey until the end of the second and tied the game. They never quit. Every game we’ve played – they don’t quit, they’re an impressive bunch.”

Marlin (Macainsh assist) scored to pull the Falcons to within one with 9:38 remaining in the second period. Macainsh connected on his second goal – this one unassisted - with a minute remaining, sending the teams into the final period deadlocked 4-4.

“It was a little bit of déjà vu, being down 4-2 halfway through the second and then tying it up,” Daley said. “We’ve been in that position before – we’ve been in a worse position before and kind of got the same result.

“We started off great – 2-0 and then a little penalty trouble and it got away from us, but going into the third tied as we have a few times before, I thought ‘We’ve got them right where we want them. We’ve been here, we know how to go from here.’ I think we played a great third. We had some really good chances early on. Their goalie made some good saves. It could have easily gone our way.”

Both goalies were forced to make one big save after another. McDaniel was credited with 39 saves while his counterpart Allen Schraeder had 33.
Macainsh’s four-point game – two goals and two assists – led the Falcons. Marlin had a pair of goals.

“The usual three had a phenomenal game,” Daley said. “Brendan (Macainsh) had four points, Justin (Marlin) had two goals, and Andrew Falkenstein was a factor in all those goals as well,” Daley said. “They always play good. You almost expect it, and you kind of take it for granted how well they do.”

A player whose name won’t show up on the scoresheet but who was everywhere in Saturday’s game was defenseman Chris Sarver.

“Chris Sarver had a really great game on defense,” Daley said. “He did a great job of shutting down number 89 (Schwarzmiller), who’s their top player.

“I always say this about Chris – he’s incredibly talented, and that’s so obvious when you watch him play, but he’s also so difficult to play against because he’s so smart. He doesn’t take many penalties, but he draws a million. I wouldn’t want to play against him. I would go crazy. His mental game is phenomenal, and when it couples with his tangible skills, it’s really impressive to watch. I think he had a great game on defense tonight.”

Pennsbury played well enough to win on most days, and the Lions needed a brilliant goal by Schwarzmiller that was impossible to stop to eke out the win.

Pennsbury                  2-2-0   4
South Fayette             3-1-3   7
Shots: Pennsbury 37, South Fayette 46. Saves: Allen Schraeder (SF) 33, Aaron McDaniel (P) 39.
First period: 1. Brendan Macainsh P (Logan Doyle) 13:40; 2. Justin Marlin P (Brendan Macainsh) 5:40; 3. Nolan Murphy SF (Tyler Brandebura/Jackson Brandebura) 5:11; 4. Tyler Brandebura SF (Brayden Imler) 4:28; 5. Brayden Reighard SF (Jackson Brandebura) 2;31.
Second period: 6. Wes Schwarzmiller SF, 14:21; 7. Justin Marlin P (Brendan Macainsh) P 9:40; 8. Brendan Macainsh P, 1:-1.
Third period: 9. Wes Schwarzmiller SF (Brady Fleck) 2:57; 10. Nolan Murphy SF (Brayden Imler) 1:34; 11. Brayden Imler SF, 1:08.