Pennridge earned a spot in the Flyers Cup AA Tournament semifinal with its win over Downingtown East. Photos provided courtesy of Tracy Valko. Check back for a gallery of photos. All SOS photo galleries for ICE HOCKEY can be viewed by clicking HERE.
#1 Pennridge 7, #8 Downingtown East 5
By Ben Reese
HATFIELD - Aidan Boyle is an offensive defenseman.
Now that doesn’t mean that he is rude or crude or anything like that. It just means that, while playing defense, Boyle also contributes on offense.
And he did his best offensive work on Thursday night, scoring the game-winning goal and assisting on two other third-period goals to lead Pennridge past Downingtown East 7-5 in the quarterfinal game of the Flyers Cup at Hatfield Ice.
The victory puts the top-seeded Rams into the semifinals against Avon Grove at Hatfield Ice on Thursday night, March 17, at 8:40 p.m.
It was a game in which the Rams had to bounce back several times, first from an early deficit in the first period and then from ties in the first, second and finally the third. It was the third period that sparked the win.
“We’ve owned the third period in every game we’ve played this year,” Pennridge coach Jeff Montagna said. “Even when they got that tying goal, I thought we were outplaying them. They expect to win. Luckily tonight they got it done.”
Boyle was certain that his team was going to win the game.
“We know the third period is our best period,” he said. “We always come out hot in the third period.
“We all knew that we weren’t losing this game. We went out there and said ‘We’re playing next week. We’re not going to lose tonight,’ and we got it done.”
Back to Boyle’s game-winner.
With 11:46 elapsed in the third, Downingtown East tied the game at 5-5. Less than two minutes later, Pennridge thought it had scored a goal, but it was waved off by the officials because a whistle had blown the play dead before the puck went in the net.
But 40 seconds later, the Cougars were called for a tripping penalty. That put the Rams’ power play on the ice.
It also meant that Boyle was back, working on the point on the power play. It set up just right.
As Boyle explained it, “Kevin Pico just found me back door and I had a wide open net to tap it in.”
And that is just what he did.
What about being an offensive defenseman?
“That’s how I’ve always played,” Boyle said. “I always like to join up in the play.”
“He’s a special offensive talent,” said Montagna. “We give him a lot of freedom.
“He’s a defenseman we give a lot of freedom and it’s the good with the bad.”
Meaning that sometimes Boyle will get caught out of position on defense.
“He’s still learning to play defense,” Montagna said. “He’s only played it a couple of years. He had a huge game tonight. He was in the right spot there on the game-winner. I’m glad he’s on my team.”
This game was one of the few times that the Rams have faced adversity on the ice. For the most part this season, they have been ahead for much of the game before finishing things off in the third period.
“What I liked about it was (Ryan) Pico has been our rock for three years, and on a night when he wasn’t on top of his game, we picked him up,” Montagna said of his standout goalie. “If you watch the NCAA tournament, the team that wins always has one game where they are on the ropes.
“The words I like to use are that they are facing their mortality. They did that, and like they have all year, they responded.”
And respond they did. The Cougars grabbed the early lead, scoring the first goal in the opening period at the 2:01 mark.
Pennridge responded with a goal from Kevin Pico assisted by Tyler Manto at 3:36 to tie the game.
Downingtown came right back four minutes later to take a 2-1 lead before Shane Dachowski knotted the game up again on the power play.
Things were relatively quiet in the second period. Only two goals were scored, one by Aeryk Lehrhaupt for the Rams and a short-handed goal by the Cougars’ Jack Wolf to once again tie the game.
Downingtown East took a 4-3 lead at 2:37 of the third period. Pennridge got a goal from Colin Dachowski to tie it again and took the lead on Andrew Savona’s goal. Both Rams goals were off assists from, you guessed it, Boyle.
However, the Cougars weren’t done. Parker Nassour scored at 11:46 to deadlock things again.
That’s when Boyle’s offensive instincts came into play. On the power play, with 1:36 left in the game, Boyle took that pass from Kevin Pico and beat Cougar goalie Ian Warter to put the Rams on top to stay.
Shane Dachowski finished things off with only 55 seconds remaining, scoring Pennridge’s seventh goal into an empty net.
And that was that.
Pennridge 7, Downingtown East 5
Downingtown East 2 1 2 — 5
Pennridge 2 1 4 — 7
First period: 1, Jacob McCallion DE (Matthew Sano, Carter Vela) 2:01; 2, Kevin Pico P (Tyler Manto) 3:36; 3, Jack Wolf DE (Vela, Aaron Harclerode) 7:38; 4, Shane Dachowski P (Jack Lowery) 14:06 PP.
Second period: 5, Aeryk Lehrhaupt P (Lowery, Colin Dachowski) 4:55; 6, Wolf DE (unassisted) 6:16 SH.
Third period: 7, Wolf DE (Parker Nassour, Sean Woods) 2:37; 8, C. Dachowski P (Aidan Boyle) 7:43; 9, Andrew Savona P (Boyle) 10:19; 10, Nassour DE (Wolf, Brody Matthews) 11:46; 11, Boyle P (K. Pico) 15:24 PP; 12, S. Dachowski P (Lehrhaupt) 16:05 EN.
Shots: DE 32, P 46. Saves: Ian Warter (DE) 39, Ryan Pico (P) 27.