The world was a far different place when the Flyers Cup was played for the first time in 1980. For that matter, so was the game of hockey. The strongest team in the world at the time was the Soviet Union’s national team. Then the Miracle on Ice occurred. It was against this backdrop that the Flyers Cup was launched, as a mechanism for promoting high-school hockey and generating new hockey fans along with it.
Four teams competed in that first Cup, with Archbishop Carroll emerging victorious after defeating Haverford High in the championship game.
This year marks the 39th edition of the Flyers Cup which, with the support of the Philadelphia Flyers organization, has become a celebration of interscholastic hockey.
This year’s tournament will have a more streamlined look. The boys’ field has been reduced from 50 teams to 39 across three divisions. The Class 2A and Class 1A brackets will include 16 teams each (down from 20) while the Class 3A bracket for private schools will feature seven teams (down from 10 a year ago). There will also be a three-team girls’ division.
First-round games are set for Monday, March 5 in Class A and the following night in Class 2A. Quarterfinal games will be played Wednesday, March 7 (in Class A) and Thursday the 8th (Class 2A).
Semifinal games are scheduled for March 12 and 13. The Class A championship game is scheduled for Wednesday, March 14 at Ice Line in West Chester while the Class 2A tournament will conclude the following night at Hatfield Ice. The Class 3A final is scheduled for March 19, also at Hatfield Ice.
Two-time Class 2A Flyers Cup champion Central Bucks South has earned the number-one seed in this year’s tournament. The Titans, who won both the Flyers Cup and state titles in 2014 and ‘16 dominated the Suburban High-School Hockey League again this season and captured their fourth consecutive league title.
South coach Shaun McGinty says a big key to postseason success is doing the little things well. “It’s just a number and the kids have to come ready to go,” he said. “It’s all about playing disciplined this time of year, it’s the special teams, it’s the power [play, the penalty kill, it’s the line changes, it’s the small things.”
The Titans will open up Tuesday against Boyertown. Puck drop is set for 7:00 at Warwick.
Tom Coyne stepped behind the Pennridge bench in December. It took his players some time to adjust to the coaching change. But he feels things are moving in the right direction. He took the Rams to the SHSHL Class 2A finals this past week.
“It was a short run for me as far as when I came in,” he said, “but I just had to get an evaluation done and from there just kind of put the pieces together. Right now, it seems like we have found some of the things that are going to help us go forward.”
Coyne coached Central Bucks South when it won its two Cup and has also coached at Cheltenham. His Pennridge team will Open Cup play Tuesday against 13-th seeded Central Bucks East Tuesday at Hatfield Ice at 7:10.
Bayard Rustin will be looking to make history in the Class A bracket The Knights will be trying to win their fifth straight Cup, something that has only been done once before in the history of the competition in any class; Malvern Prep won five straight Class 3A titles from 2001-05. All told, Rustin has won seven Flyers Cups in the last nine years. they’ve also won five Class A state titles, including the past four.
Upper Dublin is making its first Cup appearance in eight years. The Flying Cardinals, who are seeded 12th in Class A missed the SHSHL Class A playoffs but earned a Flyers Cup invitation
Coach Anthony Richichi, says there’s a lot of excitement around the program. “Here we are this year going 9-7 and beating two (Class 2A) teams,” he said. We’re really excited to be part of this now.”
Chris Barbera, Upper Dublin’s captain, is especially excited for the program’s return to the Flyers Cup. “My brother played (in the Flyers Cup) when I was younger,” he said. There was a really strong team when he played. Then when I came up they were not doing too hot and the second year the same way. So, to see us get in this year means a lot. We knew we were going to do all right with the freshmen coming up, but we didn’t know we were going to do this good.”
After not being part of the tournament for close to a decade, Barbera says this year’s return is especially meaningful. “Definitely,” he says. “We didn’t really know what to expect going into this year but now that we’re here, it really means a lot.”
Upper Dublin will open Flyers Cup play against fifth-seeded Hershey Monday at 6:45 at Ice Line.
Holy Ghost Prep coach Gump Whiteside played in the first Flyers Cup. He and the Firebirds will be trying to win their third Cup in four years but Whiteside says the Class 3A bracket is as wide-open as it’s ever been.
“I think the parity this year has been great,” he said. “As far as us getting the number-one seed I’m very proud of our players, I think they worked extremely hard to get where they are. The fruits of their labor have really paid off.”
Whiteside says it’s been rewarding to watch this year’s team develop over the course of the season. “It’s very satisfying,” he said. “We have a lot of seniors on this team. They’ve been with us for four years now and I would really like to see them end on a very positive note because they deserve it.”
the Firebirds will face either LaSalle or Cardinal O’Hara in a 3A semifinal on March 12 at Grundy Arena.
The three-team girls’ tournament will get underway on Tuesday, March 13 with second-seed West Chester East opposing third seed Radnor at 8:30 at ice Line. The winner faces three-time defending champion Unionville Thursday March 15 at the same venue at 6:30 for the Cup. Unionville has won seven Cups in the past eight seasons.
Top Seeds in Each Class
- Holy Ghost Prep
- St. Joseph’s Prep
- Malvern Prep
- Central Bucks South
- Downingtown East
- Bayard Rustin
- West Chester East
- Lower Dauphin
- West Chester East
For a complete overview of the brackets, including seedings, pairings, game sites, and times, go to: www.flyerscup.org
Game sites and times subject to change.
Our thanks to the administration and staff at Holy Ghost Prep for their support.
Holy Ghost Prep is a private, Catholic, all-boys school located in Bensalem, Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
Located adjacent to the busy I-95 corridor in metropolitan Philadelphia, Holy Ghost Prep attracts students from more than 100 elementary feeder schools from throughout metropolitan Philadelphia counties and New Jersey
Today is a vibrant community of nearly 500 young men preparing for college and adult life through a challenging program which stresses the cultivation of students’ unique gifts and talents, academic excellence, and generous service to the poor. We continue to be mindful of our founding history as a seminary as we seek to form young men morally, intellectually, and spiritually in the Spiritan tradition.