By Rick Woelfel
HATFIELD TOWNSHIP— La Salle’s big guns came up big when it mattered most. The line of Chase Hannon, Evan Golato ands Ryan Desmond combined for four goals and five assists as the Explorers bested Holy Ghost Prep 7-3 Wednesday afternoon in the Atlantic Prep Athletic Conference’s Founders Cup Championship Game in front of a full house at Hatfield Ice.
The win gives the Explorers (13-9-2) their third outright championship in the APAC’s five-year history; they shared a fourth.
La Salle will be the top seed in the Class AAA bracket of the Flyers Cup tournament, which begins next week. The Explorers have a bye into the semifinals and will face either Malvern Prep or Father Judge the week of March 13.
Hannon spearheaded his team’s effort on Wednesday by scoring three goals. Golato added a goal and an assist while Desmond contributed four assists.
Hannon said the key to the win was taking care for the basics.
“Our game plan was to get pucks deep and get on them,” he said. “I think we did that, and it clearly worked for us.”
La Salle coach Wally Muehlbronner considered Wednesday’s game his team’s best start-to finish effort of the season.
“I think we had really good focus,” he said. “The guys really played hard, they came to play tonight.”
La Salle capitalized on a Firebird turnover to score the game’s first goal. Chase Hannon corralled the lose puck in the neutral zone, found space and weaved his way trough three opponents to beat Jack Unger with a forehander from the leading edge of the left circle 4:12 into the opening session.
The Firebirds drew even when the Explorers’ Evan Golato (roughing) and Ryan Desmond (tripping) drew back-to back penalties, giving Holy Ghost Prep a two-man advantage for 46 seconds. It took Landon Stout just 14 seconds to score the tying goal off a rebound of Brady Baehser’s original shot at the 9:20 mark.
The second period produced an abundance of offensive fireworks and a total of seven goals, five of them from the Explorers.
Evan Golato put La Salle in from just five seconds into the period with a shot from the left point. Hannon scored his second goal of the game during a power play at 3:57.
Baehser answered for the Firebirds with a power-play goal of his own at 5:37 but Hannon completed his hat trick just 17 seconds later. John Seravalli’s goal cut the Explorer lead to 4-3 with 3:27 left in the period but Will Gregorio and Charlie Kennedy scored for La Salle before the period ended.
Evan Mudrick replaced Unger in the Firebird net following Kennedy’s goal.
Tim Whitock scored the only goal of the third period at the 8:10 mark. He cited his team’s veteran experience as a factor in the win.
“Senior leadership I guess,’ he said. “Got to get the younger guys going. Do whatever you can.”
For Holy Ghost Prep (16-7) which has yet to win an APAC title, the loss was a disappointing end to the conference season.
“It was not one of our best efforts,” said Holy Ghost Prep coach Gump Whiteside. “I thought we didn’t execute very well. Our structure wasn’t there the whole game. There were some things we did really well but it wasn’t a total team effort.
Ice chips—The Firebirds are seeded second for the Class AAA Flyers Cup and will face seventh-seeded Cardinal O’Hara in a quarterfinal game at Grundy Arena Monday night.
La Salle’s previous Founders Cup titles came in 2019 and ‘20, the APAC’s first two seasons. They shared the title with Malvern Prep two years ago when the Founders Cup final wasn’t played because of the pandemic.
Holy Ghost Prep 1 2—3
La Salle 1 5 1—7
First-period goals: Chase Hannon (L) unassited, 4:12; Landon Stout (HGP) from Brady Baehser and John Seravalli, 9:20 (pp)
Second-period goals: Evan Golato (L) from Ryan Desmond, :05 Hannon (L) from Desmond and Golato, 3:57 (pp); Baehser (HGP) from Landon Stout and X, 11:23; Hannon (L) from Desmond, 11:40; Seravalli (HGP) unassisted, 13:33; Will Gregorio (L) from Desmond, 14:29 (pp); Charlie Kennedy (L) rom Max Monzo and Tim Whitock, 16:42
Third-period goals: Whitock (L) from Thomas Doucet, 8:10
Shots: Holy Ghost Prep 40, La Salle 45 Saves: Jack Unger (HGP) 26 and Colin Mudrick (HGP) 14; Aries Carangi (L) 37