Wissahickon edged Abington 4-3 to capture the SHSHL 2A title on Thursday night. Photos provided courtesy of Keith Clemens Photography. Check back for a gallery of photos.
CLASS 2A Final
#1 WISSAHICKON 4, #2 ABINGTON 3
The final horn had barely sounded when the jubilant celebration began. Sticks and gloves – no longer needed – were thrown in the air as the Trojans converged on goalie Michael Bonanni.
The Trojans – thanks to their win over the Ghosts at Hatfield Ice – had captured the SHSHL 1A title. A win that was especially sweet after falling in last year’s title game to Plymouth Whitemarsh.
“It felt like true euphoria,” Bonanni said. “Fighting so hard for this all season – it feels great to achieve it.
“(Last year’s loss) motivated me to do really well here.”
It’s safe to say that Bonanni certainly wouldn’t have pictured himself in goal last year this time.
“He was a defenseman last year,” Wissahickon coach Ken Harrington said. “He had to play goalie in our Flyers Cup game last year because our other goalie got suspended the last game of the year.
“Michael Bonanni just put the equipment on and played in the Flyers Cup, and he did pretty well. Then he realized he liked it, so his parents gave him lessons over the summer, and he became our starting goalie. He’s been working really hard. He likes it – he took to it right away. I thought he was key tonight.”
For Bonanni, the transition to playing between the pipes was relatively easy.
“I’ve always kind of had a knack for getting in front of pucks,” he said. “When our goalie got ejected last year, it kind of turned into me helping out the team.
“It evolved over time. I think I started to lose my mind a little bit, and I think that’s why I’m a goalie now.”
Whatever his reasons for playing goalie, the Trojans are certainly glad he is. Although the Trojans had a 49-28 advantage in shots for the game, the Ghosts had their share of chances, including a pair of shots as time was winding down. Bonanni was equal to the task.
“I just try and keep my head,” the Trojans’ goalie said. “It’s really easy when I’m focusing just because I’m focused on doing as much as I can for my team.”
For a high-scoring Wissahickon squad, four goals was not that many, but on Thursday night, it was enough.
“We seemed a little flat at times, and some of that is the way they attack us,” Harrington said. “They were doing a good job, but we hung in there.”
All the scoring came in the first two periods. In the opening period, Bryan Garry scored, using assists from Nick Hussa and Daniel Glazer. Colin Bruton’s power play goal with just over a minute remaining in the opening period knotted the score.
Glazer and Abington’s Sam Paulik exchanged goals, and the two teams were deadlocked 2-2 midway through the second period. Back-to-back goals by Will Hussa (Nick Hussa assist) and Nick Hussa (Garry assist) put the Ghosts on top 4-2 with two minutes remaining. A minute later, it was a one-goal game when Griffin Carpenter scored an unassisted goal.
That score held the rest of the way, and the Trojans – the SHSHL American Conference regular season champions - added another trophy to their collection.
“We’re very fortunate – we get some really talented kids on our team,” Harrington said. “Most of the teams – at least half the guys if not three-quarters play in club, so some have been playing since the age of five, some since the age of 10.
“Generally, in my seven years that I’ve been here, it’s been a good core group of talented kids.”
Abington’s Ben Panella was credited with 45 saves in goal in a standout individual effort.
While Abington’s season came to a close Wissahickon will return to action on Thursday in a quarterfinal game of the Flyers Cup Class A Tournament at Hatfield Ice at 7:10 p.m.
They said it:
Bryan Garry, Wissahickon
After falling to Plymouth Whitemarsh last year’s SHSHL 1A title game, what was the mindset coming into this season? It was definitely one of our goals to win, especially coming back from last year. We played so well and dominated the season, and if we lost this game, it would not be a good end to the season. I’m just happy we ended up winning it.
Even though your team controlled the game statistically, Abington kept it close and was in it until the end. Was that frustrating? We’re not used to it being close, so it’s always good competition. We just kept pushing, everyone played well, and we got the win.
What has been the key to your team’s success? Throughout the season, we learn to play with each other. We work hard, we know what we’re good at, we all play our roles, and we ended up winning this game.
Nick Hussa, Wissahickon
After falling to Plymouth Whitemarsh in the SHSHL 1A title game last year, what was the mindset coming into this season? Basically, it was a revenge tour. We just wanted to get this one and prove that we’re better than them. It’s a rivalry now, and we won it this year. We’re looking forward to doing it again next year.
We had three goals this season: the first one, win the regular season championship, second, win the playoff championship, and third, we’re going for the Flyers Cup, so we’re not done yet.
Even though your team controlled the game statistically, Abington kept it close and was in it until the end. What that frustrating? “It’s frustrating because I took some dumb penalties in the game. We couldn’t put the puck in the net, but we stayed strong on defense, and that helped us pull it out today.”
What has been the key to your team’s success? “Just moving the puck. When our team plays too selfish, that’s when we lose games, and that’s when we get down. We just have to move the puck, incorporate everyone in the game – defense and offense, and that’s when we win games.”
Abington 1-2-0 3
Wissahickon 1-3-0 4
First period: 1. Bryan Garry W (Nick Hussa/Daniel Glazer) 9:49; 2. Colin Bruton W (Tom Rourke) 1;24.
Second period: 3. Daniel Glazer W (Bryan Garry/Nick Hussa) 13:00; 4. Sam Paulik A (Ian Heydt) 8:47; 5. Will Hussa W (Nick Hussa) 3:32; .6. Nick Hussa W (Bryan Garry) 2:07; 7. Griffin Carpenter A 1:18.
Third period: No score
Shots: Abington 28, Wissahickon 49; Saves: Michael Bonanni (W) 25, Ben Panella (A) 45.