By Rick Woelfel
HATFIELD TOWNSHIP— It was pretty much business as usual for LaSalle Friday evening. Sam Lipkin and Daniel Sambuco scored two goals apiece and five other players scored one goal each as the Explorers routed St. Joseph’s Prep 9-1 in an Atlantic Prep Athletic Conference game at Hatfield Ice.
The win assured that LaSalle (15-6, 6-0-1-0 in the APAC) can do no worse than tie for the regular-season title in the APAC’s inaugural season. The Explorers are six points ahead of second-place Malvern Prep with two conference games remaking for each team, including one against each other next Wednesday at Hatfield Ice.
Friday’s game was settled early on. LaSalle took command when Sambuco, Jan Olenginski, and Sam Lipkin scored first period goals to give their team a 3-0 lead. Lipkin’s goal came with a teammate in the penalty box.
The Explorers epitomized balance by scoring three goals in the second and third periods as well. At a point in the season where physical and mental fatigue become increasingly significant, Sambuco says he and his teammates have maintained their focus.
“We know what we want at the end,” the sophomore said. “Obviously, we want the state championship, so that kind of fuels us, every single game, every single day. It just keeps us driving and going and going becaus e window what that end goal will be.”
LaSalle extended its lead when Sambuco scored his second goal of the game 3:32 into the second frame to chase Hawk netminder Dan McGill, who was relieved by Troy Stefano. Lipkin made it 5-0 with a power-play effort at the 8:27 mark before Evan Cassidy scored what turned out to be St Joseph’s Prep’s only goal at 8:59. Nathan Benner scored for LaSalle before the period ended, a prelude to Max Levenberg, Bryan Evans, and Fabrizio Mazzarelli scoring goals in the third period.
William Gross in the LaSalle net didn’t have much to do; he was called on to make just 15 saves.
“Puck movement I think was really good tonight,” said LaSalle coach Wally Meuhlbronner. “We’re coming of a pretty tough stretch where we haven’t scored a ton of goals. We were pinned in our (defensive zone) a lot the past two games and it’s good to see them play the way they did tonight.”
St. Joseph’s Prep coach David Giacomin saw his team fall to 6-14 overall and 1-6-1-0 in conference. The veteran coach was less upset with the result than he was his team’s seeming lack of emotional energy.
“I see good things out of these kids at times,” he said. “And for whatever reason, we go through these games where they just seem to not care.
“And to me, that’s the frustrating part. Once one goal is scored, or a second goal is scored, it’s almost like they give up. And so it’s very frustrating for a coach who puts in a lot of time and effort and practice with them to have them come out and not handle adversity well.”
St. Joseph’s Prep 0 1 0—1
LaSalle 3 3 3—9
First-period goals: Daniel Sambuco (L) from Michael Casey and Jan Olenginski, 5:43; Oleninski (L) unassisted, 6:15; Lipkin (L) from Casey and Olenginski, 15:24 (sh).
Second-period goals: Sambuco (L) from Lipkin, 3:32; Lipkin (L) from Fabrizio Mazzarelli and Sambuco, 8:27 (pp); Evan Cassidy (SJP) from Vincent Bogessi, 8:59;Nathan Benner (L) from Nolan Woudenberg, 12:48.
Third-period goals: Max Levenberg (L) from Ryan Walsh and Zach Baker; Bryan Evans (L) from Woudenberg and Ryan Ferry, 11:36; Mazzarelli (L) from Baker and Lipkin, 14:03.
Shots; St. Joseph’s Prep 16, LaSalle 43; Saves Dan McGill (SJP) 16 and Troy Stefano (SJP) 18, William Gross (L) 15.