Abington 7 Plymouth Whitemarsh 2

HATFIELD TOWNSHIP—The Galloping Ghosts are still rolling along. Pat Stelacio delivered a hat trick that helped Abington overcome a 2-1 first-period deficit and go on to a 7-2 win over Plymouth Whitemarsh Wednesday at Hatfield Ice night to claim its second consecutive SHSHL American Division championship.

The win marks the eighth time Abington (16-0-1-1) has won a SHSHL title of some sort and marks the 50th anniversary of its first. The Galloping Ghosts claimed the first three SHSHL titles from 1974-76 and won another championship in 1978. They won back-to-back National Division titles in 2003-04 before taking the American Division title last season.

The historical significance of Wednesday night’s win was not lost on Abington coach Ken Brzozowski.

“That’s exactly what I talked to the boys about,” he said. “We talked about that with our players before the game. That wasn’t lost on them as well., that they had a chance to really cement themselves as one of the best teams that came out of Abington.

“We’ve won back-to-back championships but we lost the (American Division) championship three years ago by one goal to a very good Wissahickon team. So, these players have been at this level for three years in a row.”

Stelacio transferred to Abington at the urging of an older brother. Those have been the best two years of my life,” he said.

The Colonials (12-7) jumped in front on a goal from Dylan Novitsky 10:04 into the opening period. Jordan Heydt answered for Abington two-and-a-half minutes later before Novitsky scored a power-play goal with 61 seconds remaking in the period.

The goal came just seven seconds after Abington’s Ian Heydt received a two-minute sentence for hooking.

It would prover to be the Colonials’ last hurrah.

Matt Kramer tied the game for Abington 7:28 into the middle period on a shot from the right circle off an offensive zone draw.

Stelacio put Abington in front with a shorthanded effort with 6:11 left in the period in a prelude to a surge that saw Stelacio, Steven Dorn, and Ian Heydt all beat Colonial netminder Chris Maslij in the final 1:59 of the second session. Heydt’s a shot from the left wing hit the back of the net just before the buzzer sounded. At that point, Abington was home free.

“They jumped quick,” Stelacio said. “They got two. It was 2-1 and we bounced back. We just ran from there. That was amazing.”

Stelacio recalls watching his brother play for the Galloping Ghosts before he enrolled at Abington. “I came to the games,” he recalled. “I completely wanted to be part of this experience, all the energy they had. It was great I really wanted a part of that.”

Ice Chips—Abington is seeded 12th for the Class AA Flyers Cup and will face fifth-seeded Pennsbury on Tuesday at 6:15 at Grundy Arena. The Colonials are the ninth seed in Class A and will face eighth-seeded Penncrest Monday at 7:00 at the Skatium.

Plymouth Whitemarsh 2 0 0—2

Abington 1 5 1—7

First-period goals: Dylan Novitsky (PW) from Matt Flynn, 10:04; Jordan Heydt (A) from Ian Heydt and Ryan Portner, 12:42; Novitsky (PW) from. Conlan Carpenter, 15:59

Second-period goals: Matt Kramer (A) from Ian Heydt, 7:28; Pat Stelacio (A) from Ian Heydt, 10:49 (sh); Stelacio (A) from Griffin Carpenter, 15:01; Steven Dorn (A) from Sam Paulik, 15:58; Ian Heydt (A) from Jordan Heydt, 16:59

Third-period goal: Stelacio (A) from Sam Abramson and Carpenter, 9:53 (pp)

Shots: Plymouth Whitemarsh  21, Abington 40; Saves: Chris Maslij (PW) 33, Sam Nemec (A) 19 

Abington 6 Wissahickon 3

HATFIELD Township—With two of its leading scorers idled by injury, Abington needed a big game from its goaltender Thursday night, and it got it. Sam Nemec came up big as the Galloping Ghosts remained unbeaten with a 6-3 decision over Wissahickon in a SHSHL American Division encounter at Hatfield Ice.
Abington stands a perfect 8-0 on the season heading into the Christmas break and 7-0 in divisional play. The Galloping Ghosts’ last loss came to Council Rock South last March in the opening round of the Class AA Flyers Cup tournament.

On Thursday, they were without Pat Stelacio, the SHSHL’s leading scorer, and Matt Kramer, who between them have combined for 26 goals and 17 assists this season. That scenario raised expectations for Nemec and the senior delivered. Officially, he was credited with 37 saves against a Wissahickon team that came in averaging better than seven goals a game.

“It was definitely one of my busier games this year,” Nemec said, “and I felt I had it locked in as soon as the puck dropped. I felt good in warmups tonight.”

Like many goaltenders, Nemec prefers a lot of work.

“I would much rather be busy, rather than stay cold and face a couple shots a period,” he said. “I enjoy being busy down there.”

Abington coach Ken Brzozowski called Nemec’s effort the best game of his Abington career.

“I told him that was the best game I’d ever seen him play,” Brzozowski said. “I’ve been watching him play for four years and we asked him before the game; we said ‘We need one, we need a good game.’ And that’s what he did tonight, he gave us a great game.”

Jordan Heydt gave Abington a 1-0 lead 4:58 into the first period. Danny Hussa answered for Wissahickon (4-4, 4-3 in the division) five-and-a-half minutes later.

The Trojans took the lead when Hudson Honeycutt scored of a setup from Jack Raebiger 3:04 into the second period on a play that started when Raebiger made a rush up the left wing. But Sam Paulik tied the game for Abington with a power-play goal less than two minutes later before Heydt scored his second goal of the night to put the Galloping Ghosts back in front with 3:52 remaining in the period.

Ian Heydt extended Abington’s lead to 4-2 1:29 in to the third period but the Trojans weren’t finished. Will Hussa scored off a setup from Danny Hussa and it was a one-goal game once more with 5:14 still left in regulation. But Ian Heydt responded for Abington just 19 seconds later.

Devin Bates added an empty-net goal just before the final buzzer.

Wissahickon coach Ken Harrington said his team ran out of energy in the late going.

“We were gassed,” he said. “We had a short bench tonight. They were (fatigued) on the bench

“But, we just couldn’t get the puck over the goalie.”

Wissahickon 1 1 1—3

Abington 1 2 3—6

First-period goals: Jordan Heydt (A) unassisted, 4:58; Danny Hussa (W) from Nolan Pounds and Griffin Lynch, 10:31

Second-period goals: Hudson Honeycutt (W) from Lynch, 3:04; Sam Paulik (A) from Sean Doyle 4:56 (pp); Jordan Heydt (A) unassisted, 12:08

Third-period goals: Ian Heydt (A) from Sam Abramson, 1:29; Will Hussa (W) from Danny Hussa, 11:46; Ian Heydt (A) from Abramsom and Brian Murdoch, 12:05; De vin Bates (A) unassisted, 16:59 (en)

Shots: Wissahickon 39, Abington 18; Saves: Fletcher Lynch (W) 12, Sam Nemec (A) 36

Abington, PW To Meet at Wells Fargo Center

Senior Nights are special for high-school hockey players, as they are for athletes in other sports, but Abington and Plymouth Whitemarsh are set to have an experience that is truly unique.

The Galloping Ghosts and the Colonials will honor their seniors when they face each other in a non-league game on Wednesday, January 18—at the Wells Fargo Center.

Plymouth Whitemarsh coach Dave Cox the game was arranged by the two club presidents, Abington’s Ed Stelacio and Plymouth Whitemarsh’s Bob Shoemaker.

“We have come together and kind of forged a relationship,” Cox said.

The experience will allow the two teams to recognize their seniors in traditional fashion, prior to game time which is set for 7:30. The SHSHL, at the insistence of local rinks, has prohibited Senior Night observances prior to league games this season because they tended to delay games and force games in later ice slots to start later than scheduled.

Abington coach Ken Brzozowski says each club’s desire to recognize its seniors led to the game being arranged.

“The presidents of the two clubs started talking,” he said, “and said ‘Hey, what can we do to still honor this great tradition?’

“It’s a tremendous opportunity for us. Last year we had a special game against Wissahickon (outdoors at the Spring Mountain resort) and to have this kind of great event again is something to look forward to.”

To cover the cost of purchasing the ice at the Wells Fargo Center for the event, both clubs are selling tickets to Flyers home games in February.

Plymouth Whitemarsh is selling tickets for the matchup between the Flyers and the New York Islanders on Monday, February 6 while Abington is selling tickets for a meeting with the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday, February 9. Tickets are $40 and $60 depending on location.

Cox, who played for Plymouth Whitemarsh, is anticipating the emotions the two teams will experience when they step on the ice at the Wells Fargo Center.

“I can only imagine how excited these kids will be,” he said.            “Not too many kids can say they had that (experience).”

Abington 11 Hatboro-Horsham 0

WARWICK TOWNSHIP—Abington took the ice this season with something to prove. A loss in the SHSHL Class A final a year ago (and being left out of the Flyers Cup field) has served as a motivating force and the Galloping Ghosts are off to a 3-1 start (2-0 in divisional play) in the wake of their 11-0 two-period win over Hatboro-Horsham Friday night at Revolution Ice Gardens, a win that set a message to the rest of the SHSHL’s American Division, and anyone else who may be interested.

“We definitely have that loss in the back of our minds, said senior forward Pat Stelacio, “every practice and every game. Just trying to get back to where we were last year and win it all instead of losing in the finals.”

Senior Ben Panella is one of the SHSHL’s most experienced goaltenders. “I think the loss in the finals last year was al kick in the butt,” he said. “This year, we are coming out with something prove. We are hoping that we can take it all this year. We have a deeper lineup and we just want the league to know what we can do.”

Junior Matt Kramer led the scoring barrage for the Galloping Ghosts, scoring five goals and assisting on two others. Three of his goals and both his assists came in the first period as Abington took a 7-0 lead.

“A good start is what we need,” Kramer said.

At that point, Abington coach Ken Brzozowski had his troops ease up against the Hatters (1-3, 0-2) who had just 10 skaters dressed, and focused his attention on finding ice time for some of his second-line athletes. In addition to Kramer, four different players scored goals. Matt Cholaj finished with two while Jordan Heydt, Ton Rourke, and Jonathan Walker added one each.

Brzozowski noted he has a deeper lineup than is typical in the SHSHL’s Class A sector. “We’re lucky that we’ve progressed here over the last couple of years,” he said. ”We’ve got some juniors and seniors on the team. But the biggest thing is, we’ve got a couple new players on our team that really have some skill. Between the first, second, and third lines, we’ve got some players who can put the puck in the net.”

First-year Hatboro-Horsham coach Shane Smith praised his team’s effort despite being shorthanded. “The team came out and fought hard,” he said. “They battled hard. I saw a lot of things from players that they reached down in and pulled out some stuff they didn’t think they had.
“Obviously the score didn’t go the way we wanted it to but I think there were a lot of good thigs out on the ice. I think there was a lot of good, hard, forechecking and we had a few good opportunities that were there.”

Abington 7 4 x—11

Hatboro-Horsham 0 0 x—0

First-period goals: Mathew Cholaj (A) from Matt Kramer, :43; Kramer (A) unassisted, 1:24; Jordan Heydt (A) unassisted, 7:38, Kramer (A) from Sean Doyle, 9:43; Tom Rourke (A) from Seamus Donofry, 11:13; Kramer A) from Joe Stelacio, 13:00 Cholaj (A) from Kramer, 13:42
Second-period goals: Kramer (A) from Stelacio, 2:59; Ryan Portner (A) from Ian Heydt 3:08; Jonathan Walker (A) from Heydt, 10:54; Kramer (A) from Vinny Menniti, 13:36

Shots: Hatboro-Horsham 16, Abington 43; Saves: Mason Rush (HH) 32; Ben Panella (A) 16

Jeff Mauro has written a book on the history of the Pennsylvania state high school hockey championship. To find out more and order a copy CLICK HERE