Pennridge and North Penn were winners in Wednesday’s opening round of the Flyers Cup AA Tournament. CB South/Downingtown West photos provided courtesy of Dara N. King Photography. Check back for a gallery of photos.
#4 PENNRIDGE 6 #13 GARNET VALLEY 5
By Ben Reese
HATFIELD -- Frankie Rota is not expected to score goals for the Pennridge ice hockey team.
But his Ram teammates are certainly glad he scored one when Pennridge opened its Flyers Cup play with a come-from-behind 6-5 win over Garnet Valley Wednesday night at Hatfield Ice.
Trailing by a goal going into the third period, the Rams came back on a tying goal from Eric Slater on the power play. Then just over two minutes later Rota untied the game to boost Pennridge into the next round against North Penn, a 9-5 winner over Pennsbury.
"It was amazing getting the first win in the Flyers Cup," Rota said. "It was big for momentum going forward."
How about that goal, Frankie? How did that happen?
"Somebody made a play near the boards at our blue line," he said. "I took (the puck), entered the zone, took a shot and it happened to go in. Our motto was to just put shots on net and that's just what we did."
The Rams certainly did that. They took 18 shots on goal in each period, totaling 54 shots for the game.
Hey, coach, how about that play by Rota?
"He's one of our top guys," said Ram coach Jeff Montagna. "He has the ability to make those plays.
"When he got open as he did, you just hope he finishes like he did there. It was a great job."
One thing was obvious from the opening face-off. Garnet Valley was better than its seeding in the Flyers Cup. The Jaguars were a 13th seed and the Rams were a fourth seed.
"I was scared to death going into that game," Montagna said. "Coming off the emotion of last Thursday (a 4-0 win over Central Bucks South to win the SHSHL AA title), against a team you don't know, you haven't seen, you don't really know what to expect.
"I don't know if we could play worse defensively than we did tonight. It was a little too close."
The entire Ram team appeared to be out of sync in the first period. Luke Stranick, normally a very stingy goalie, allowed a pair of goals within 43 seconds of each other in the opening stanza.
"A couple of really weird goals to start the game," said Montagna. "I think as a team we weren't sharp.
"He's been so good for us. It's going to happen that we have to pick him up once in a while."
Rota acknowledged the lack of sharpness in the first period also.
"I don't know what it was coming out of the CB South game," he said, "but we were just in a drought kind of. We managed to pick it up there toward the end."
The scoring in the game went back and forth. In the first period alone the lead changed hands twice. It would have been three but the officials waved off a Pennridge goal with only 22 seconds left in the period because the goal net was dislodged.
Pennridge took the lead in the second period on a short-handed goal. But Garnet Valley came right back and scored two power play markers to go into the third period with a 5-4 lead.
In the third, Eric Slater tied the game at 5-5 with his power play goal at the 5:47 mark. Then Rota grabbed his hero role at 7:53 with the game-winner.
"You were looking at a team that was staring at mortality in the third period and they didn't panic," Montagna said of the Rams. "They didn't rush things.
"They did a real good job of fighting through that potential disaster. I was proud of the way they stabilized themselves."
Garnet Valley got off to a quick start. The Jaguars got a goal from Hunter Baar with only 37 seconds elapsed on the clock.
The Rams bounced back with goals from Slater and Michael Walker to take a 2-1 lead at the 5:35 mark. But the Jags regained the lead on goals by Patrick Vaughn and Nick Bonfiglio at 8:24.
That lead lasted slightly less than six minutes. Jeff Manto tied the score at 3-3 with 1:46 left on the clock in the period.
Matthew Guinette put Pennridge on top late in the second period. He scored a short-handed goal at 11:28 for a 4-3 lead.
That lasted only 42 seconds before Garnet Valley's Matthew Wood scored on a power play to tie it. Wood got a second goal in the period to give the Jaguars the lead at 5-4 entering the third period.
From that point, Slater and Rota took care of the finish.
"That's a really good league down there," said Montagna. "They've got a lot of good players in that area.
"We knew that going in. We didn't know what to expect."
The Rams' next opponent will not be a mystery. They face North Penn on Monday, March 11, at 7 p.m. at Hatfield Ice in the next round of the Flyers Cup.
Pennridge 6, Garnet Valley 5
Garnet Valley 3 2 0 -- 5
Pennridge 3 1 2 -- 6
First period: 1, Hunter Baar GV (Matthew Wood) 0:37; 2, Eric Slater P (Matthew Guinette, Michael Walker) 4:52; 3, Walker P (Slater) 5:35; 4, Patrick Vaughn GV (Lee Wheeler) 5:57; 5, Nick Bonfiglio GV (Vaughn) 8:24 SH; 6, Jeff Manto P (Guinette, Michael Eissler) 14:14.
Second period: 7, Guinette P (Manto) 11:28 SH; 8, Wood GV (unassisted) 12:10 PP; 9, Wood GV (Vaughn) 13:25 PP.
Third period: 10, Slater P (Nick Eissler) 5:47 PP; 11, Frankie Rota P (Manto) 7:53.
Shots: GV 25, P 54. Saves: Joshua Juliano (GV) 48, Luke Stranick (P) 20.
#5 NORTH PENN 9, #12 PENNSBURY 5
In a battle of SHSHL foes, the Knights blew open a close game with five goals in the second period. They never looked back.
“We’ve got a lot of offensive power on this team,” North Penn coach Kevin Vaitis said. “When we get it going, we can really get it going.
“That’s what we did in the second period. I think we really took advantage of the game – we were able to capitalize on a number of chances there.”
North Penn’s Nathan Oh and Pennsbury’s Shane Siegmund exchanged goals in the opening period. Then came a second period that saw the Knights find their offensive stride. It began with North Penn’s Jake Nelson scoring the go-ahead goal 1:23 into the period only to watch Jake Sieger answer for the Falcons less than a minute later. Back-to-back goals by Tyler Greenstein put the Knights on top 4-2
“Tyler (Greenstein) has just got so much speed,” Vaitus said. “He’s an explosive player.”
A goal by Siegmund (Beau Yedman assist) pulled the Falcons to within one, but goals by Nelson (Josh Kaulfold assist) and Thomas Boyle (Greenstein and Kaulfold assists) gave the Knights a 6-3 lead heading into the final period.
Erik Eisler turned a Sieger pass into his first of two goals in the period to make it a 6-4 game, but the Knights reeled off three straight goals by Kaulfold, Jared Albano and Luke Van Why sealed the Falcons’ fate.
Nick Ebbinghaus turned away 15 shots in goal to earn the win.
“He’s a freshman – he’s come a long way this season,” Vaitus said. “He keeps getting better and better every game.
“The thing with him is that he has such a competitive drive. We’re pleased with everything he’s done this year.”
Topher Seiler recorded 30 saves for the Falcons.
With the win, North Penn will face another familiar foe – Pennridge - in Monday’s quarterfinal.
“We've played them three times this year and they've been pretty good games every time,” Vaitus said. “They beat us twice by one goal and we tied them once. We know them very well and they know us very well.”
North Penn 9, Pennsbury 5
Pennsbury 1 2 2 – 5
North Penn 1 5 3 – 9
First period: 1, Nathan Oh NP (unassisted) 2:38; 2, Shane Siegmund P (Jake Machlovitz, Reece Millman) 13:48PP.
Second period: 3, Jake Nelson NP (Oh) 1:23; 4, Jake Sieger P (unassisted) 2:01; 5, Tyler Greenstein NP (Luke Van Why) 5:58; 6, Greenstein NP (unassisted) 7:07; 7, Siegmund P (Beau Yedman) 8:45 PP; 8, Nelson NP (Josh Kaufhold) 11:24 PP; 9, Thomas Boyle NP (Greenstein, Kaufhold) 15:59.
Third period: 10, Erik Eisler P (Sieger) 1:43; 11, Kaufhold NP (Van Why) 4:232 PP; 12, Jared Albano NP (Greenstein, Van Why) 11:06 PP; 13, Van Why NP (Greenstein) 14:02 PP; 14, Eisler P (Ben Dous) 14:44.
Shots: P 20, NP 39. Saves: Topher Seiler (P) 30, Nick Ebbinghaus (NP) 15.
#1 DOWNINGTOWN EAST 4, #16 COUNCIL ROCK SOUTH 1
#3 CONESTOGA 5, #14 PERKIOMEN VALLEY 1
#6 HAVERFORD 7, #11 CENTRAL BUCKS EAST 1
#7 BOYERTOWN 4, #10 CENTRAL BUCKS WEST 0
#15 DOWNINGTOWN WEST 5, #2 CENTRAL BUCKS SOUTH 2
FLYERS CUP A (Monday, March 4)
#2 STRATH HAVEN 11, #15 HATBORO-HORSHAM 1
Strath Haven led by just a 2-0 score at the end of one period but blew the game wide open with a nine-goal outburst in the second. Alexander Howieson scored the Hatters’ lone goal.
Hatboro-Horsham 0-1-0. 1
Strath Haven 2-9-0 11
Shots: HH 6, Strath Haven 35. Saves: Joseph Gambino (HH) 24, Lukas Bernaus (SH) 5.
#6 HERSHEY 10, PLYMOUTH WHITEMARSH 0
Hershey opened up a 4-0 lead after the first period on its way to the shutout win. PW managed just 10 shots while Hershey pelted a pair of PW goalies with 55 shots.
Plymouth Whitemarsh 0-0-0. 0
Hershey 4-5-1 10
Shots: Hershey 55, PW 10. Saves: Ben Yuter (PW) 7, Tyler Uhr (PW) 38, Christopher Larkin (H) 7, Ethan Sicher (H) 3.
#10 UNIONVILLE 12, LOWER MORELAND 4
Unionville stormed out of the gate to a 4-1 lead after one period and upped its advantage to 7-3 heading into the final period. Coleman Peppelman had a hand in all four of the Lions’ goals, connecting for the hat trick and assisting on the fourth goal. Adam Bostock contributed a goal and an assist, and Tyler Scolnick had an assist.
Unionville 4-3-5. 12
Lower Moreland 1-2-1. 4
Shots: LM 36, Unionville 36. Saves: Keigan Craig (U) 32, Jacob Lungin (LM) 23.