The prevailing mindset at Grundy Arena Friday night, both before and after LaSalle’s 5-1 win over Holy Ghost Prep, was one of satisfaction.
The result of the game mattered of course, but there was a lot more to the evening than that result
A lot of people but in a lot of effort to make the Atlantic Prep Athletic Conference a reality and seeing that vision become a reality on the ice was obviously satisfying to the responsible parties.
“It’s something we’ve talked about for years,” said LaSalle coach Wally Muehlbronner, “and to finally pull it together, I think it’s going to be a great thing for all the schools involved.”
Friday’s game drew a large and enthusiastic audience to Grundy Arena. Holy Ghost Prep coach Gump Whiteside enjoyed the evening despite his team taking the loss.
“This is great,” he said. “The environment we had here tonight, both teams competing really hard, “LaSalle worked hard. I thought we worked hard, this was just a great atmosphere. This is what high-school hockey in the Delaware Valley is all about. Two great teams, two great schools, and I wish we could play like this every night.”
Holy Ghost Prep captain Tom McNulty enjoyed the atmosphere as well. “It was a great atmosphere tonight,” the senior defenseman said. “We had a big (turnout), the whiteout (from Holy Ghost Prep supporters) was awesome. Our fans were really into it.”
McNulty pointed out that the four APAC schools (Holy Ghost Prep, LaSalle, Malvern Prep, St. Joseph’s Prep) will benefit from going against each other on a regular basis. “I think it will be really good,” he said. “We’re going to have a lot of time for improvement. Playing these better teams, we’re going to become better; we’re going to just keep picking it up from there.”
APAC Commissioner Jim Britt was on hand for Friday’s opener. Britt coached at Holy Ghost Prep and later helped launch the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation. He was approached last spring about heading up the APAC.
“(The four league schools) had come together and reached a great discussion point,” he said, “to try to organize, celebrate, to help grow the game of high-school hockey in the Philadelphia area.
Britt was elated at the atmosphere of Friday’s game and the enthusiasm of both the participants and fans.
“The turnout tonight is indicative of the kind of enthusiasm that is possible, that is out there,” he said. Someone said earlier that it’s like a Flyers Cup playoff game already and this is only the first game of the conference. So, it’s really neat to see.”