By Rick Woelfel
HATFIELD TOWNSHIP— All season long, LaSalle has shown the ability to score in bunches. That talent was on display Wednesday afternoon against Holy Ghost Prep in the Atlantic Prep Athletic Conference championship game. The Explorers scored four second-period goals in a span of 6 minutes, 7 seconds and went on to a 5-2 win over the Firebirds to claim the first-ever Founders Cup in front of an energized audience at Hatfield Ice.
“I’m feeling really excited right now,” said Brandon Leer, one of LaSalle’s captains. “The past four years I’ve been here, this is my first championship … It feels really good right now.”
The two teams played the first period on even terms.
The Firebirds (8-13) started the scoring at the 3:12 mark when Alex D’Angelo sent a pass down the middle of the ice from deep on the left side of his own zone. E.J. Pohl collected the puck in full stride and went up the middle to beat LaSalle goaltender Aidan McCabe.
Nathan Benner tied the game for the Explorers (20-6) with two seconds left in the opening session from midway between the faceoff circles.
Holy Ghost Prep took a 2-1 lead 5:59 into the second period when he tipped in D’Angelo’s shot from the high slot.
But then the Explorers exploded. Fabrizzio Mazzarelli, Sam Lipkin, Jan Olenginski, and Daniel Sambucco all scored goals during the barrage and LaSalle found itself up 5-2 with 1:23 left in the period.
“I think we started clicking a little bit better,” said LaSalle coach Wally Meuhlbronner. “I don’t know that all the lines were on the same page to start with but once we started clicking, we were going to the net hard.”
That five different players scored the Explorers’ first five goals was a testament to the team’s scoring balance. “I think we’re fortunate,” Muehlbronner said, “and they definitely stepped up tonight. It was good to see.”
D’Angelo scored a power-play goal for the Firebirds with 6:39 left in regulation but Benner answered for the Explorers 61 seconds later.
Holy Ghost Prep coach Gump Whiteside lamented his team’s inability to sustain its early momentum. “I thought we played well the first and third periods,” he said, “and that stretch in the second period our wheels fell off a little bit and they took advantage of our mistakes. Credit to them, Wally and the boys. “But we’ll see them again.”
The Flyers Cup is still ahead but the APAC officially completed its inaugural season on Wednesday. Leer noted the caliber of play was first rate all year season long. “Every team out here (including Malvern Prep and St. Joseph’s Prep was outstanding,” he said. “There was not one game where we felt as if we completely dominate the opponent. Each game we had was very close and then either we outworked the opponent and made the gap grow bigger or they backed down, which made our job a lot easier.”
Notes: LaSalle had a 34-26 edge in shots. All four APAC teams will compete in the Class AAA Flyers Cup. LaSalle is the top seed and had a first-round bye. Malvern Prep is seeded second, Holy Ghost Prep fifth, and St. Joseph’s Prep sixth.
Holy Ghost Prep 1 1 1—3
LaSalle 1 4 1—6
First-period goals: EJ. Pohl (HGP) from Alex D’Angelo, 3:12; Nathan Benner (L) from Michael Casey and Sam Lipkin, 15:58.
Second-period goals: Evan Mudrick (HGP) from D’Angelo, 5:59; Fabrizzio Mazzarelli (L) from Jan Olenginski and Lipkin, 8:30 (pp); Lipkin (L) from Casey and Zach Baker, 9:10 (sh); Olenginski (L) unassisted, 11:06; Daniel Sambuco (L) unassisted, 14:37.
Third-period goals: Alex D’Angelo (HGP) from Eric Mark and Midrick, 9:21 (pp); Benner L) from Colin Kreisler and Ryan Ferry, 10:22.
Shots: Holy Ghost Prep 26, LaSalle 34; Saves: Sean Joyce (HGP) 28, Aidan McCabe (L) 23
The Grundy Skate Shop is a full service hockey pro shop inside the Grundy Arena, offering a great selection of equipment, brands and various services. We do a range of repairs as well as offer custom hockey jerseys. We recently celebrated our 5th year at the shop but owner, Bill Keyser, has over 25 years experience in the industry and specializes in skate sharpening, including profiling. Please visit our Facebook page or stop in and check us out!