Photo courtesy of Tracy Valko. Click on the following link to view a gallery of photos of the Flyers Cup title game: https://solsports.zenfolio.com/p43389014
It's been a long time coming, but Saturday afternoon on the campus of Robert Morris University, Pennsbury – thanks to its magical run to a Flyers Cup AA championship - will be playing for its first Pennsylvania AA Cup title since 1985. The Falcons won Flyers Cup titles at the A level in 2000 and 1993.
“It’s been so long since we’ve done anything like this, especially in the AA division,” Pennsbury coach Ryan Daley said. “The last three years we’ve had some really talented teams. If I had to pick the one that would have made it to states, I probably would have said our 2020-21 team that won the SHSHL championship.
“We had the two seed in the Flyers Cup, and everything was clicking and then we lost in the second round, but we know we’ve been really close. This year, the regular season had some ups and downs, for sure, and clearly, Council Rock South was having a really good year, but honestly, we thought they were the only one standing in our way.”
Pennsbury had defeated second-seeded Pennridge two out of three times heading into the Flyers Cup championship final where they earned a 5-3 win over the Rams. In the semifinals, the Falcons stunned top-seeded Council Rock South 7-5.
“Once the Flyers Cup rankings came out and I saw the path we were going to have to go through to get to the final, it certainly seemed unlikely because there was no way around us having to play (Council Rock) South again for the fourth time,” Daley said. “If we got past them, we had to play Pennridge again and Conestoga is a really good team. Even Abington I thought was a much better team than the seeding they were given.
“I thought, ‘Man, they gave us a tough path,’ but we just found a different gear and kept it going.”
Pennsbury will need to find that different gear one more time on Saturday against a South Fayette team that captured the 2023 Penguin Cup.
PENNSBURY vs SOUTH FAYETTE (at Robert Morris Island Sports Center, Saturday, 2 p.m.)
- 18-6 overall
- 6-3-1 SHSHL second place tied with Pennridge behind Council Rock South
- Fell to Council Rock South in the SHSHL final.
- Led by senior Brendan Macainsh who led the SHSHL during the regular season with 60 points (40g, 20a)
- Other key contributors are Andrew Falkenstein (8g, 27a), Justin Marlin (16g, 17a), Logan Doyle (11g, 12a) and Chris Sarver (7g, 13a)
- Aaron McDaniel anchors the defense in goal with a 12-6 regular season record. He has allowed an average of 3.66 goals a game and has an .858 save percentage.
How they got here: Pennsbury entered the Flyers Cup Tournament as the fifth-seeded team.
- The Falcons defeated #12 Abington 8-3 in the opening round and then eked out a 4-3 win overtime win over #4 Conestoga in the second round. In the semifinals, Pennsbury upset top-seeded Council Rock South 7-5.
- In the title game against #2 Pennridge, the Rams led 1-0 after one period, but a pair of Brendan Macainsh goals gave the Falcons a 2-1 lead heading into the final period. Evan Eisler scored early in the third period to put the Falcons on top 3-1 only to see the Rams rally to knot the score. Justin Marlin scored a goal that turned out to be the game-winner 8:41 into the period. Macainsh’s empty net goal gave the Falcons their final margin of victory.
- Macainsh received the Bobby Clarke Award as MVP of Flyers Cup Tournament with 10 goals while Justin Marlin was recognized as the top offensive player with 13 points.
- 16-3-2 overall
- 15-3 PIHL second place behind Armstrong
- Scored 95 goals and allowed 59
- Led by Wes Schwarzmiller – who scored 24 goals and assisted on 26 others (50 points) in 19 regular season games and, in November, signed a North American Hockey League (NAHL) tender agreement with the NAHL’s Minnesota Timberwolves.
- Other key contributors are Tyler Brandebura 9g, 17a), Trevor D’Alessandro (9g, 14a), Nolan Murphy (15g, 7a), Robert Chiappetta (6g, 10a) and Brayden Imler (4g, 11a)
- Goalie Allen Schraeder had a 10-4-1 record in 19 regular season games and had a 3.34 goals-against average and a save percentage of .883.
How they got here: South Fayette was the number two seed from the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Hockey League heading into the Penguin Cup playoffs.
- In an opening round game, South Fayette defeated #7 Franklin Regional 3-2 and then downed #6 Greater Latrobe 4-1 in the Penguin Cup semifinals.
- In the final, South Fayette defeated top-seeded Armstrong 2-0. The Lions scored two goals in a span of 2 minutes and 52 seconds in the second period, the first by sophomore Tyler Brandebura on a broken play. Sophomore Trevor Dalessandro scored his fifth of the Penguin Cup and second of the game to give the Lions a 2-0 lead that stood the rest of the way. South Fayette goalkeeper Allen Schraeder was credited with 22 saves in the shutout win.
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