Top-seeded Pennridge notched a win in Tuesday’s opening round of the Flyers Cup AA Tournament. 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 5, #16 Ridley 2
By Ben Reese
HATFIELD - Youth must be served.
That is exactly what Pennridge ice hockey coach Jeff Montagna is doing with a big assist from his players.
The Rams beat Ridley 5-2 in the opening round of the Flyers Cup on Tuesday night at Hatfield Ice. Three of the five goals were scored by sophomores.
Andrew Savona had two goals and Tyler Manto had one to lead the Rams. Cooper White and Aidan Boyle, two seniors, had the other goals.
The line of Savona, Manto and Kevin Pico has proven to be one of the strongest for Pennridge. And they are all sophomores, three of the six sophs on the Rams’ roster.
“(Savona’s) line with Pico and Manto was dominant tonight,” said Montagna. “They dominated every shift they were on the ice. They controlled everything.”
Is it unusual to have a line of all sophomores, especially on as strong a team as Pennridge is?
“I would have said that at the beginning of the year but not now,” Montagna said. “There have been long stretches of this season where they have been our best line.
“As some of the teams (in the league) got to know them, they started to take away (what they do). They had to figure out a different way. Tonight, they went back to what they did for most of the year, just controlling everything.”
It’s not like Montagna just threw these three hockey players together and said, ‘Go play.’ They have developed a chemistry over the course of the year and also some in previous years that has cemented them together.
“I played with Kevin and Tyler when we were younger,” Savona said. “We’ve definitely played together here and there.”
And that chemistry has created a solid, cohesive unit.
“We know where each other are,” explained Savona. “We don’t have to look at each other. “We’ll know we’re there. We have like radar on each other. We can see where each other are.”
Each one of the three has something he can bring to the combination.
“They’re three very different players,” Montagna said, “Manto is a little bit more of the grit on that line. Pico and Savona are a little more finesse.
“They work really well together. They play the game the right way.”
The Rams controlled the first period, scoring twice. White netted the first goal with an assist from Andrew Lizak, and Savona, with helpers from his line mates, got the second.
Boyle made it 3-0 on the power play with assists from Shane Dachowski and goalie Ryan Pico at 6:37 of the second period. But the Raiders came back at the 8:44 mark as Anthony Putter scored, also on the power play.
Manto got that one back on the power play to open the third period, scoring after only 25 seconds. And, after Josh Sabatini scored for Ridley to cut the Rams’ lead to 4-2, Savona notched his second goal into an empty net.
“There are six sophomores that play a full-time shift on this team, and something that is helping is last year,” Montagna said. “As things went on (last year), they forced me to give them a regular shift (because of their talent and hard work). And I thought the three games in the Flyers Cup last year really got them prepared for this year.
“They got a lot of experience last year. It’s a pleasure to coach them. They make me look good sometimes.”
And Thursday’s win is just another example of that.
Pennridge 5, Ridley 2
Ridley 0 1 1 — 2
Pennridge 2 1 2 — 5
First period:1, Cooper White P (Andrew Lizak) 10:45; 2, Andrew Savona P (Kevin Pico, Tyler Manto) 16:56 PP.
Second period: 3, Aidan Boyle P (Shane Dachowski, Ryan Pico) 6:37 PP; 4, Anthony Putter R (Matt Stranix) 8:44 PP.
Third period: 5, Manto P (Colin Dachowski, Savona) 0:25 PP; 6, Josh Sabatini R (Miguel Rios) 9:14; 7, Savona P (unassisted) 15:67 EN.
Shots: R 28, P 43. Saves: Nicholas Giuliano (R) 38, Ryan Pico (P) 26.