Craig Ostroff recaps all the action in Pennridge’s win over Pennsbury in Thursday’s Flyers Cup Class AA second round game. Pennridge was the SHSHL’s lone survivor.
#10 Pennridge 9, #2 Pennsbury 6
The Pennridge ice hockey team is learning to like their road uniforms.
Ranked 10th among 16 teams in the Flyers Cup Class AA tournament, the Rams have played the part of the visitors in both of their games so far.
After surviving an epic battle against second-seeded Pennsbury in Thursday’s quarterfinal matchup at Hatfield Ice, Pennridge will have another opportunity to don their road black-and-greens.
The Rams dictated the tone throughout much of the game and built up a five-goal lead late in the third period. But three consecutive penalties against Pennridge—including an extended 5-on-3 power play—opened the door for Pennsbury, which powered in three goals in an 86-second span in the final four minutes to close the gap to two at 8-6. But Pennridge’s Aeryk Lehrhaupt completed a hat trick by scoring on an empty net with 43 ticks left on the game clock to give the Rams a heart-stopping 9-6 victory and a berth in Tuesday’s Flyers Cup Semifinal.
“You’re looking up at the clock every 30 seconds and it’s going backwards on you,” Pennridge coach Jeff Montagna said of the furious final minutes of the contest, which the Rams were forced to endure without captain Blake Stewart, who was serving a 10-minute misconduct. “We were killing penalties but we got passive. The guys were back on their heels, and that’s what happens when a team’s coming at you that hard.
“In the third period, Pennsbury did exactly what they should have done. That’s the nice thing about getting a little cushion. But we got a little passive, then got a little undisciplined. But time ran out, and we move on, and that’s what’s important.”
It was the Rams who dominated the later stages of the first period to give themselves a cushion. After trading the first four goals—Lehrhaupt scored 11 seconds into the game, with Andrew Falkenstein putting Pennsbury on the board five minutes later. Shane Siegmund gave the Falcons their only lead of the game at 2-1 off a goalmouth scramble on the power play two minutes later. But the Rams responded with three goals in the last six minutes of the opening frame to take a 4-2 lead into the second period.
Importantly, those three goals came from Tyler Manto (Aidan Boyle, Ryan Schuler assists), Jack Lowery (Schuler, Richie Shanks assists), and Andrew David (Schuler, Manto assists).
“All four lines scored tonight,” Montagna said. “We got at least one from all four lines. That’s big for their confidence. We rolled four lines tonight and for all of them to contribute, that’s good. That’s what you need this time of year.”
Pennridge added to its lead with the only two goals of the second period with Lowery’s second of the game and Lehrhaupt’s second on a shorthanded goal. It provided the Rams with a 6-2 lead heading into the third period.
Past experience taught the Rams that that four-goal advantage might not be secure. Twice the Rams and Falcons met this season, and twice the Falcons overcame third-period deficits to win both games. And even when Andrew Lizak scored on the rebound of his own breakaway attempt—his first goal of the season—to extend the lead to 7-2, the Rams knew even that lead might not be safe.
The teams traded the next two goals—Brandan MacAinsh for Pennsbury followed six minutes later by Jeff Manto’s breakaway goal for Pennridge—to set up the frantic final minutes.
“This is how Pennsbury plays,” Montagna said. “They love it wide open and it’s hard to shut them down an entire game. For two-and-a-half periods we did, but then we start taking penalties and they get desperate, and it’s not easy to shut those guys down.”
Reece Millman (Erik Eisler assist) scored from the point on a two-man advantage with 3:35 left, and Falkenstein followed less than a minute later with his second of the game (Siegmund, MacAinsh assists). Just 25 seconds after that, Siegmund scored from the slot (Erik Eisler, MacAinsh assist) to pull the Falcons back to within two at 8-6 before Lehrhaupt put it away for the Rams.
The final minutes aside, Montagna believes playing Pennsbury was important for several reasons.
“We’ve seen them three times and we know what they’re capable of,” Montagna said. “Being a Flyers Cup quarterfinal, we have seven freshmen or sophomores in the lineup, and playing a team we know helped them settle down and not let the moment be too big.
“But this is all we thought about since last Wednesday night, getting another shot at them. They’re a really good hockey team, but we felt we were the better team. We felt we gave one away, and to get another chance at them in a spot this big, it feels good.”
The loss closes the book on a magical season for Pennsbury. The Falcons finish at 13-3 overall in a season that saw them win the program’s first SHSHL Class AA championship.
For the Rams (9-5), it’s one more chance to put on the visitors’ uniforms and prove the doubters wrong. Pennridge advances to Tuesday’s semifinal round at Ice Line where the Rams will face third seed Haverford, which punched its ticket to the semis with a 7-2 victory over Central Bucks South on Thursday.
“Haverford knocked us out of the Flyers Cup last year,” Montagna said. “Whether it was C.B. South or Haverford, no matter who we play, there’s an element of revenge for both. So hopefully we can keep riding this little Revenge Tour we’ve got going.”
They said it:
Pennridge forward Aeryk Lehrhaupt
Have you ever experienced a third period as wild as this one? Probably not. It was a little stressful, not how we wanted that one to go, but we came out with a W against a team ranked 8 seeds higher than us, you can’t complain.
Twice this year Pennsbury overcame third-period deficits against Pennridge. What was your mindset heading into the third? We come into this third period up a couple goals, and the first thing on our mind is we can’t stop playing offense. We took a little bit off toward the end, we got caught in our defensive zone and it cost us. You’ve just got to keep up the offense and keep pressuring.
How important was it to get goals from all four lines tonight? It was huge. Pennsbury has a couple guys on that team pushing 30 points, we’ve got nowhere near that. So it’s huge to have a bunch of guys that can put the puck in the net. You’re not relying on one line. You can cycle, get your other lines well rested.
Last game, you proved you’re better than the 10 seed. Tonight you proved you can beat Pennsbury. What do you want to prove next? We want to prove that we deserve to be one of the top seeds, that we deserve to be looked at as one of the top teams. We take out a big dog like Pennsbury, we got Haverford next, and there are some scary teams on that other side of the bracket, but we’ll take the win tonight and we’ll look to keep moving on.
Are you getting to like wearing only the road uniform? It’s kind of our thing now. When you get disrespected with your seed, you kind of embrace it.
Pennridge defenseman Colin Dachowski
Have you ever experienced a third period as wild as this one? Not really. With all the penalties toward the end, all the goals and the comeback at the end, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a third period like that.
Twice this year Pennsbury overcame third-period deficits against Pennridge. What was your mindset heading into the third? We needed to play defense first. We knew they would come out strong, they came back on us in the SHSHL semifinal game, but we knew we had to stop them, because we knew they can put up a lot of goals. We just wanted to keep playing our game. We knew they had a lot of strong players and we wanted to lock them down.
How important was it to get goals from all four lines tonight? We knew we’d need to put up a lot of goals tonight. We knew we couldn’t rely on one line. We needed to have a lot of guys step up and we were able to do that tonight.
Last game, you proved you’re better than the 10 seed. Tonight you proved you can beat Pennsbury. What do you want to prove next? We want to keep proving everyone wrong. We felt disrespected by our seed and we want to keep going and keep proving everyone wrong.
Pennridge 4-2-3 9
Pennsbury 2-0-4 6
First period: 1. Aeryk Lehrhaupt Pr (Jeff Manto, Colin Dachowski) 15:49; 2. Andrew Falkenstein Pb (Evan Eisler) 10:08; 3. Shane Siegmund Pb (Connor Coyne) 8:05; 4. Tyler Manto Pr (Aidan Boyle, Ryan Schuler) 6:33; 5. Jack Lowery Pr (Ryan Schuler, Richie Shanks) 3:10; 6. Andrew David Pr (Ryan Schuler, Tyler Manto) 0:23.
Second period: 7. Jack Lowery Pr (unassisted) 9:02; 8. Aeryk Lehrhaupt Pr (unassisted) SH 1:30.
Third period: 9. Andrew Lizak Pr (Andrew David) 12:58; 10. Brendan MacAinsh Pb (Reece Millman, Shane Siegmund) SH 12:20; 11. Jeff Manto Pr (Aeryk Lehrhaupt) 6:14; 12. Reece Millman Pb (Erik Eisler) PP 3:35; 13. Andrew Falkenstein Pb (Shane Siegmund, Brendan MacAinsh) PP 2:34; 14. Shane Siegmund Pb (Erik Eisler, Brendan MacAinsh) 2:09; 15. Aeryk Lehrhaupt Pr (unassisted) ENG 0:43.
Shots on goal: Pennridge 33, Pennsbury 46.
Saves: Ryan Pico (Pr) 40; Marek Jorgenson (Pb) 24.
#2 Haverford 7, #6 Central Bucks South 2
#1 Downingtown West 8, #9 Neshaminy 6
#6 West Chester Henderson 5, #3 Wissahickon 1