Craig Ostroff recaps all the action in Pennridge’s win over CB East in Tuesday’s Flyers Cup Class AA opening round. Photos of Pennridge/CB East and CR South/Avon Grove provided courtesy of Keith Clemens Photography. CLICK HERE to view the galleries.
#10 Pennridge 4, #7 Central Bucks East 2
Aidan Boyle spent much of his youth hockey days as a forward. It’s only been in recent years—particularly for the Pennridge hockey team—that he’s switched positions to help anchor the Rams’ defense.
A forward at heart, Boyle admits he likes to be aggressive and move up on the play … sometimes a little too often.
“I like to play very offensively—I definitely need to hang back more than I do—but we don’t have many defensemen, so wherever they need me,” Boyle said. “But yeah, I do need to hang back a little more often.”
But Tuesday night, as the 10th-seeded Rams opened Flyers Cup Class AA tournament play against seventh seed Central Bucks East, Boyle’s forays into the offensive end proved to be timely. The junior defenseman used a hard-fought solo effort to set up the Rams’ first goal, then scored one of his own as Pennridge jumped out to a 3-0 first-period lead and earned a 4-2 victory over their divisional rivals to kick off their Flyers Cup quest.
“What he brings offensively—Aidan’s a guy who can play half the game if you need him to, he’s everywhere, he makes so much stuff happen,” said Pennridge coach Jeff Montagna. “For a team that’s not a natural goal-scoring team, he creates chances out of thin air for us. He’s a wonderful offensive hockey player.
“He’s not even a natural defenseman. Sometimes you see the offenseman in him a little too much, but we’ll take it.”
Boyle put the Rams on the board midway through the first period when he intercepted a clearing pass just outside the Patriots’ blue line, worked his way in and around to the back of the net, where he dished a perfect pass to Richie Shanks, who fired it in.
“I was looking to cut to the slot and shoot it, but the other defenseman was there,” Boyle said. “So I took it wide and I saw (Shanks) in front and gave him a little pass.”
Aeryk Lehrhaupt made it 2-0 on the rebound of a Blake Stewart shot on a play that developed from a stolen puck by Rams’ defenseman Ryan Schuler. Boyle capped off the first period scoring when he deflected a Colin Dachowski pass into the cage. Dane Fitchett also picked up a helper on the goal.
“That was a beautiful pass, Colin put it right on my stick,” Boyle said. “I didn’t have to shoot it or anything. I didn’t think I was going to be able to put that in, (the defenseman) had me tied up pretty good. I just deflected it right off my stick.”
And while the three goals made for a huge cushion as well as a momentum boost for the Rams, Montagna was more impressed with the play on the other end of the rink.
“That was probably the best first period they played all year,” Montagna said. “Especially defensively, they were giving up nothing, they were phenomenal. The goals were a bonus but I thought they took that game over defensively in the first period.”
The Patriots were held to just seven shots in the first period, all of which were denied by Rams’ goalie Ryan Pico, who would finish the night with 24 saves.
While East could not climb all the way back, the Patriots certainly didn’t go away, either. Connor Keiser put East on the board midway through the second period when he zipped a laser just under the crossbar (Phil McIntyre, Adam Bostock assists). The Patriots pulled back to within one goal just over three minutes into the third period when Pico made the initial stop on a Stephen DiRugeris shot, but the rebound sat in the slot. Battling against a defender, Bostock managed to get a stick on the puck and knock it home.
Unlike the Rams’ last game—which saw Pennsbury battle back from a deficit and eventually win the game in overtime—the Rams would not allow that to happen on this night. Rams’ captain Stewart took a pass from along the boards from Cooper White, and while falling to the ice, managed to maneuver the puck around East goalkeeper Matt Mangiacapre’s (36 saves) outstretched pad and into the net to reclaim the two-goal lead. Lehrhaupt also drew an assist on the goal.
“That’s what we couldn’t do last week when they got that goal that made it 5-4 and then tied it,” Montagna said. “When you’ve got that two-goal lead in the third, they get one early again … when your senior captain steps up and buries that, I thought that took a lot out of C.B. East.”
Central Bucks East ends the season at 6-5-1 overall. The Rams, bolstered by a big win and the added motivation of trying to prove they deserved a better seed than they received, return to action on Thursday.
Awaiting Pennridge in the quarterfinal round is yet another familiar opponent. The Rams advance to face second seed Pennsbury Thursday night at a time and venue to be announced. The Falcons hold two victories over Pennridge this year. Both were one-goal games, both saw the Falcons use a third-period comeback to pull out victories, a 3-2 win in the Rams’ season opener in January, and a 6-5 overtime win last week in the SHSHL Class AA semifinal.
“It’s something I’ve been pounding home since last Monday,” Montagna said of the Rams’ 10th seed in the tournament. “I understand it, but had three league loses by one goal, we were so close to a much better seeding. We weren’t happy with it, but at some point, we have to prove that we’re not a 10 seed. That’s really what we stressed, something that for the last 10 days we’ve pounding it home over and over and over. ‘That’s what they think of us.’ We know we’re a way better team hockey than that, and hopefully this is the first step tonight toward proving that.”
They said it
Pennridge goalkeeper Ryan Pico
Could you have asked for a better way to start this game than a 3-0 first period? It was nice to put in three, get that early lead, and to keep them off the board, too, They didn’t really have a lot of shots either, it was nice. Getting that lead definitely makes me a lot more comfortable, but I didn’t see a lot of shots, so I’ve got to try to stay focused, keep my blood flowing.
Is it easier to prepare a defensive game plan against a familiar opponent? We know a lot of their players, and know who to focus on and try to shut down.
How huge was Blake Stewart’s goal after East cut the lead to 3-2? That was huge. It helped a lot. I was starting to stress after that second goal. That game last week in the league playoffs, they were down two in the third, and they scored a quick one to start to come back. It was nice to get the two-goal lead back tonight.
How much confidence do you have that in tight games, someone is going to step up and get that key goal? It’s nice to have so many guys to rely on. We have a lot of goal scorers on this team. We know anyone can do that at any time.
Ready to come back and do this again on Thursday? Oh yeah. Yeah, we’re ready.
Pennridge defenseman Ryan Schuler
Could you have asked for a better way to start this game than a 3-0 first period? We just shut them down all over the ice. We were down there the whole time in their end. Everybody was grinding and doing their part for the team. Our breakout was very clean, we got it out almost every time, no issues down low, it was a pretty solid period all around for us.
Is it easier to prepare a defensive game plan against a familiar opponent? It definitely helps when you know a team. That’s always the mentality, when there are good skaters and shooters on the other team, it’s always the goal to try to shut them down and try to limit the amount of shots they can put up. When it’s someone you’ve seen before, we start to lean what their strategies are, what they tend to do.
How huge was Blake Stewart’s goal after East cut the lead to 3-2? It was the most important goal. The last game, we couldn’t get a goal in the third and they came back. Our mentality for this game was not make the same mistakes as last time, to shut them down and move on.”
How much motivation has the 10 seed been? I think it’s obvious we’re not the 10th seed in the tournament. It’s definitely been a calling for the team to show that we’re not the 10 seed, and we can do a lot more than people expect of us, and we’re a lot better than people think.
Ready to come back and do this again on Thursday? Absolutely. We want to see (Pennsbury) again.
Pennridge defenseman Aidan Boyle
Could you have asked for a better way to start this game than a 3-0 first period? Coach said before the game, as long as we get off to a good start, we’ll be good, we just have to finish it out. We just knew we had to work, work harder than them, and that’s what we did tonight. We had it in their zone most of the time in the first half of the game, and we shut them down as best we could.
Is it easier to prepare a defensive game plan against a familiar opponent? It’s definitely easier when you know most of the guys on the team, when you play club with a few of them, you get to know who you need to focus on.
How much motivation has the 10 seed been? Honestly, it was great for us. We couldn’t have asked for anything better. We know we should be higher than that. That makes us want to prove it.
Ready to come back and do this again on Thursday? 100 percent.
Pennridge 3-0-1 4
Central Bucks East 0-1-1 2
First period: 1. Richie Shanks P (Aidan Boyle) 9:21; 2. Aeryk Lehrhaupt P (Blake Stewart) 5:52; 3. Aidan Boyle P (Colin Dachowski, Dane Fitchett) 3:06.
Second period: 4. Connor Keiser CBE (Phil McIntyre, Adam Bostock) 9:12.
Third period: 5. Adam Bostock CBE (Stephen DiRugeris) 12:41; 6. Blake Stewart P (Cooper White, Aeryk Lehrhaupt) 11:30.
Shots on goal: Pennridge 40, Central Bucks East 26. Saves: Ryan Pico (P) 24, Matt Mangiacapre (CBE) 36.
#2 Pennsbury 2, #15 Conestoga 1
#6 Central Bucks South 3, #11 Owen J Roberts 1
#9 Neshaminy 4, #8 Perkiomen Valley 0
#12 Avon Grove 3, #5 Council Rock South 2
#3 Haverford 12, #14 North Penn 1