Pennridge captured the program’s first ever Flyer Cup AA title with its 5-1 win over CR South in an All-SHSHL contest at Hatfield Ice. 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.
By Ben Reese
HATFIELD — Anyone in youth ice hockey circles familiar with Jeff Montagna knows that he generally has something to say.
That is until Tuesday night.
After his Pennridge Rams had defeated Council Rock South 5-1 at Hatfield Ice to win the program’s first Flyers Cup, Montagna found himself searching for words.
“I’m not usually at a loss for words and I’m struggling right now,” he said as his players celebrated the victory. “I really don’t know what to say.”
However, he did recover very soon after.
“It was a 5-1 game and I don’t think we played great, but these guys just expect to win,” he said. “They just expect it at this point.”
He also had something to say about his seniors, who have been with the program for four years with their first three not all that great.
“They suffered in a lot of real tough losses,” Montagna said. “The cool thing is you have the awards thing and it’s all freshmen and sophomores and the seniors don’t give a flying rat’s (butt) about that.
“This is the definition of a true hockey team. They are so close off the ice. They do everything together.”
His players, especially the seniors, felt the same way.
“It feels amazing,” said goalie Ryan Pico, who turned away 45 of 46 shots he faced in a stellar outing. “We’re not done yet because we have a game Saturday but it’s amazing.
“We’ve pretty much been waiting for this year. I’m just glad we could come through and get it done.”
Team captain Jack Lowery was all smiles.
“It’s surreal for us,” he said. “We’re on Cloud Nine right now. Just all the hard work we put in - it feels like it finally paid off.
“Four years ago, we lost 13 seniors. Nobody thought we would be in this position now. It’s just unbelievable. I don’t know what to compare this to. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime feeling.”
Montagna also took some time to send some plaudits to his coaching mentor, Tom Coyne. Coyne coached Central Bucks South to two state titles and later came to the Pennridge program.
“I wish Tom Coyne was here right now,” Montagna said. “Me and him came to Pennridge five years ago. He was here three and a half years with me.
“He taught me so much. I thought a lot about him today and how I wish he was here for this because I wouldn’t be here if we didn’t come here together.”
In sharp contrast to all the euphoria on the Pennridge side, the CR South side was very somber.
Coach Joe Houk was not pleased with the effort of his team. And he didn’t mince words.
“We finally picked a game not to play defense,” Houk said. “It comes down to when you’re in a big game you’ve got to have the compete level and we didn’t have the compete level.
“They played a good game. We got beat. They wanted the puck. You thought they had seven guys on the ice at one time.”
That was the Pennridge defense. But the Rams’ offense worked out pretty well also.
It was actually the Golden Hawks who struck first. Blaize Pepe beat Pico at the 9:23 mark of the first period off assists from Julian Wagenmann and Daniel Vergules to open the scoring.
But Pennridge came back to tie things up. Kevin Pico took a pass from Colin Dachowski and beat South goalie Carson Lopez at 13:16 to knot the score.
The second period belonged to the Rams. They scored three goals, two of them early in the period.
Kevin Pico got things started 2:26 into the period off an assist from Andrew Savona. That was followed 1:34 later by a goal from Shane Dachowski with assists from Aeryk Lahrhaupt and Lowery. Dachowski added his second marker at 15:05 of the period for a 4-1 lead, again using an assist from Lehrhaupt.
In the third period, South tried everything it could to score but was turned away by Ryan Pico and the Rams’ defense. However, Colin Dachowski hit the scoreboard for Pennridge with 12:52 elapsed to finish up the scoring. Assisting on the game’s final goal where Shane Dachowski and Lehrhaupt.
As Montagna said, when the awards were handed out after the final buzzer, it was to a bunch of underclassmen.
The Bobby Clark Award, given to the most valuable player, went to sophomore Kevin Pico, and the leading scorer award went to Shane Dachowski, a freshman.
The all-tournament team consisted of Shane Dachowski, Kevin Pico, sophomore Andrew Savona of Pennridge, sophomore Colin Dachowski of Pennridge, Council Rock South sophomore Kevin Koles and South goalie Lopez, a junior.
The Rams advance to the state finale on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Iceline in West Chester. They will play Thomas Jefferson, a 6-5 Penguins Cup overtime winner over Franklin Regional.
Pennridge 5, Council Rock South 1
CR South 1 0 0 — 1
Pennridge 1 3 1 — 5
First period: 1, Blaize Pepe CRS (Julian Wagenmann, Daniel Vergules) 9:23; 2, Kevin Pico P (Colin Dachowski) 13:16.
Second period: 3, K. Pico P (Andrew Savona) 2:26; 4, Shane Dachowski P (Aeryk Lehrhaupt, Jack Lowery) 4:00; 5, S. Dachowski P (Lehrhaupt) 15:05.
Third period: 6, C. Dachowski P (S. Dachowski, Lehrhaupt) 12:52.
Shots: CRS 46, P 36. Saves: Carson Lopez (CRS) 31, Ryan Pico (P) 45.