They reached the mountaintop and came home with a state championship.
Malvern Prep’s 4-2 win over North Allegheny in Saturday’s Class AAA Pennsylvania Cup finale was the culmination of a season’s worth of dedication, not only on the ice but, in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, off the ice as well.
Junior Quinn Dougherty scored his team’s first goal, a shorthanded effort that tied the game at 1-1 7:09 into the first period. Dougherty felt that goal was the turning point in the game.
“I thought that was probably a huge goal,” said. “We were down 1-0, we were on a penalty kill, things weren’t really going out way.
“Then we scored on the penalty kill and that just gave us a bunch of life because it was a hard-work goal and it just showed we weren’t going to quit right away.”
Senior Ryan Sambuco, one of the Friars’ captains, says the championship game’s up-tempo pace worked to the Friars’ advantage. “We played the game we wanted to,” he said. “We pretty much kept it simple, getting pucks in deep and shooting low for rebounds That’s how we scored all our goals.
“I think did very well managing the other team and playing to their weaknesses and our strengths.”
Senior Matt Donatucci said the Friars picked up their game after a slow start. ”There were times we were playing sloppy,” he said, “but I think at the end of the second we definitely talked it out. We realized that we kind of had to sacrifice and played our game. I think after that we were probably smooth sailing from there.”
For Donatucci, winning the state championship marked the conclusion of a long journey. I’ve been here for seven years,” he said, “since middle school. I’ve been playing hockey the whole time. Going out on top has been awesome I’m friends with almost every guy in the locker room. It’s just a great group of guys.”
Sambuco saluted his teammate, senior defenseman Chris Blango, for his contributions to the team’s success. Blango didn’t dress for the Flyers Cup final against La Salle or for the state championship game because of injury.
“He brought to where we were, in the playoffs and everything,” Sambuco said. “Being a captain of the team, also being our number one defenseman throughout the regular season and everything, being on the bench as well.
“He did everything to contribute to the boys. He was out there talking. He was almost like another coach on the bench.”