WARWICK TOWNSHIP—There was an air of anticipation in the building when Holy Ghost Prep and Council Rock South took the ice at Revolution Ice Gardens Monday night.
The matchup brought together two teams who are legitimate Flyers Cup contenders in their respective classes; the Firebirds in Class AAA and the Golden Hawks in Class AA.
It was the Golden Hawks who prevailed on this occasion overcoming am early 2-0 deficit to post a 5-4 win.
Monday’s game was also a meeting of two of the area’s most respected coaches. Joe Houk has been at Council Rock South for 17 seasons. Gump Whiteside has been at Holy Ghost Prep for 15 seasons and spent eight years at Germantown Academy before that.
Both Houk and Whiteside have won scores of games and have Flyers Cup and state titles on their resumes. They share a passion for the game of hockey—and a mutual respect that goes back to when they played against each other in their high-school days.
“Joe’s a pro,” Whiteside. “Quite honestly, he’s been a mentor to me. I’ve coached Joe for many, many, many, many years and he’s always been a pro,
“He always approaches it the right way. He doesn’t have an ego it’s not about him. It’s about his players.
“And you could see it tonight. He had his team prepared. Joe is the ultimate pro, the ultimate mentor, and quite honestly a great guy.”
Whiteside noted the tenaciousness Houk’s teams regularly bring to the rink.
“They play with grit,” he said.”
Houk similar sentiments.
“Gump is a good guy, a good human being,” he said. “He brings such a good quality of the sport to the game.
“He’s a man of character. And he cares about the kids. It’s not ‘Win at all costs’ with him. It’s more about development and hopefully, you move some of those kids on.
“He’s just a good guy. He’s a good guy for the sport.”
• Jake Weiner scored a pair of goals 45 seconds apart that turned a 2-2 standoff into a 4-2 South lead and the Golden Hawks never trailed again.
The win was South’s 11th of the season against two defeats with one of the losses coming in overtime.
Houk said going against a team the Firebirds said a lot about his own team’s potential for success.
“If we can at that sustained level we played at tonight,” he said. “The physical part of it, keeping things simple, keeping things to the outside, getting the opportunities on transition. I thought we controlled the whole game (but) they’re good. They’ve got some really, really good skill players. They move the puck well. They’re a good team. They’re going to go far too.”
Brady Baehser scored three goals for the Firebirds, who saw their record drop to 13-6.
“We got up 2-0 and that’s when we started to take them lightly,” he said. “And we just fell apart.”
Baehser said the defeat highlighted the importance delivering a solid effort from the start to finish of each game.”
“We’re a very talented team and we think we can win games based off that. But that outworked us all night, all three periods and it showed on the scoreboard.”
Holy Ghost Prep 2 2 0—4
Council Rock South 2 3 0—5
First-period goals: Landon Stout (HGP) from Patrick Slook and John Seravalli, 1:03; Brady Baehser (HGP) from Seravalli, 5:18; Blaize Peppe (CRS) unassisted, 8:39; Kevin Koles (CRS) from Gavin Nisenson, :41
Second-period goals: Jake Weiner (CRS) from Illia Muckhin, 3:19; Weiner (CRS) from Jeremy Rayher, 4:04; Baehser (HGP) from Seravalli, 8:26 (pp); Joseph Diiulio (CRS) from Weiner and Pepe, 12:04; Baehser (HGP) from Stout, 12:35 (pp)
Shots: Holy Ghost Prep 27, Council Rock South 41; Saves: Jack Unger (HGP) 36 Carson Lopez (CRS) 23