BRISTOL—Few things are more impressive or imposing than a goaltender standing tall. Aidan McCabe did just that for La Salle Wednesday afternoon to help the Explorers successfully defend its Founders Cup title. The senior netminder stopped 30 of the 31 shots he saw as La Salle bested Holy Ghost Prep 4-1 at Grundy Arena to retain the championship of the Atlantic Prep Athletic Conference.
The Explorers (15-13), who have won six of their last seven games will carry an abundance of momentum with then into next Thursday’s opening round of the Class AAA Flyers Cup where they are seeded second behind the Firebirds (15-5-1).
LaSalle captains Nathan Benner (L) and Ryan Ferry accept the Founders Cup from APAC Commissioner Jim Britt (photo by Liz Diretto)
Holy Ghost Prep, the top seed in the APAC playoffs, had the better of the play in the early going; at one time they had an 8-1 edge in shots, but McCabe kept them at bay and the second-seeded Explorers broke through at the 5:15 mark when David Kimmel took a shot from the left point, a single stride inside the blue line that beat Firebird netminder Sean Joyce. Keenan Schneider made it 2-0 with 56 seconds left in a period that saw McCabe make 13 saves.
“We had a good warmup,” McCabe said, “and we were doing a good job of keeping the shots to the outside so I could see the puck and track it in.”
Senior forward Ryan Ferry, one of La Salle’s captains, said McCabe’s early efforts energized his teammates. “McCabe has been good all year,” he said. “I expect nothing less.”
The Firebirds took advantage of an extended power play to score the only goal of the second period after the Explorers’ Chris Wnek and Kimmel drew back-back-penalties. Byron Hartley took a shot from the right circle that Dan Behr tipped past McCabe at the 11:15 mark.
But that was all the offense the hosts could generate. No one was more impressed with McCabe’s performance than Holy Ghost Prep assistant coach John Seravalli, who took charge behind the bench in the absence of Gump Whiteside, who missed the game because of illness.
“He made every good save,” Seravalli said. “He kept his rebounds intact. They blocked shots when we got shots off and he made great saves.”
David Brunner extended LaSalle’s lead with a goal at the 8:28 mark of the third period. Schneider scored his second goal of the game into an empty net with 25 seconds remaining.
Ferry noted that it took time for this year’s team to meld. “We just got closer as a team,” he said. “We had a lot of young kids on our team this year, a loot of seniors that were on JV last year so we didn’t know each other that well. We got a lot closer, started understanding how to play with reach other, and got s lot more chemistry.”
Ice Chips—La Salle will face Roman Catholic next Thursday in its Flyers Cup opener while the Firebirds will go against Bishop Shanahan. The Firebirds had a 31-25 edge in shots.
La Salle 2 0 2—4
Holy Ghost Prep 0 1 0—1
First-period goals: Collin Keiser (L) unassisted, 5:15 (sh); Keenan Schneider (L) from David Kimmel, 15:04.
Second-period goal: Dan Behr (HGP) from Byron Hartley and Evan Mudrick, 11;15 (pp)
Third-period goals: David Bruner (L) from Collin Keiser, 8:28; Schneider (L) unassisted, 15:35 (en).
Shots: La Salle 25, Holy Ghost Prep 31; Saves: Aidan McCabe (L) 30, Sean Joyce (HGP)) 21