On Pennsylvania scholastic hockey’s biggest stage, and with the game in the balance Aidan Boyle came up big. The Pennridge senior delivered two assists and scored the winning goal, all in the third period as Pennridge scored four times in the final stanza to score a 7-5 win over Downingtown East Thursday night in a Flyers Cup Class AA quarterfinal at Hatfield Ice.
The top-seeded Rams (19-0-1) will face Avon Grove in a semifinal game next Wednesday at 8:40 at Hatfield Ice.
The fans that filled the rink Thursday night got their money’s worth. There was little to choose between the Cougars and Rams who went into the tied at 3-3.
Jack Wolf’s third goal of the game gave eighth-seeded Downingtown East a 4-3 lead at the 2:37 mark but goals from Colin Dachowski and Andrew Savona put Pennridge up 5-4 with 6:41 left in regulation. Boyle assisted on both goals.
Parker Nassour tied the game for the Cougars with 5:13 left on a shot from between the circles that Pennridge goaltender Ryan Pico couldn’t handle.
The deciding sequence was set up when the Cougars’ Sean Woods was called for tripping with 3:08 remaining, one of 16 penalties called in the game, all minors. During the subsequent power play, Boyle played the puck to Kevin Pico behind the net who in turn moved to the side of the net and tried to tuck the disk inside the right post before sliding the disk across to Boyle who put it behind Downingtown East goaltender Ian Warter with 1:36 remaining in regulation.
“We know the third period is our best period of hockey that we always play,” Boyle said. “We always come out hot in the third period and we knew we had it. We just had to work hard.”
Pennridge coach Jeff Montagna credited his team for stepping up when Ryan Pico, one of the area’s best goaltenders, was at less than peak form.
“Pico has been our rock for three years,” he said. “He wasn’t on top of his game, we picked him up.
“You watch the NCAA basketball tournament, the team that wins always has one game where they’re on the ropes. The words I like to use are facing their mortality. And they did that, and like they have all year they responded. They do that every game.”
The teams were never separated by more than a goal until Shane Dachowski scored into an empty net in the final minute. But Boyle was confident the Rams would prevail.
“We all knew that we weren’t losing this game,” he said. “We just went out there and said ‘We’re playing next week, we’re not going home tonight.’”
Downingtown East 2 1 2—5
Pennridge 2 1 4—7
First-period goals: Jacob McCallion (DE) from Matthew Sano and Carter Vela, 2:01; Kevin Pico (P) from Tyler Manto, 3:36; Jack Wolf (DE) from Vela and Aaron Harclerode, 7:38; Shane Dachowski (P) from Jack Lowery, 14:06 (pp)
Second-period goals: Aeryk Lehrhaupt (P) from Lowery and Colin Dachowski, 4:55; Wolf (DE) unassisted, 6:16 (sh)
Third-period goals: Wolf (DE) from Parker Nassour and Sean Woods, 2:37; Colin Dachowski (P) from Aidan Boyle, 6:17; Andrew Savona (P) from Boyle, 10:19; Nassour (DE) from Wolf and Brody Matthews, 11:47; Boyle (P) from Pico, 15:34 (pp); Shane Dachowski (P) from Lehrhaupt, 16:05 (en)
Shots: Downingtown East 32, Pennridge 46; Saves: Ian Warter (DE) 39, Ryan Pico (Pr) 27