WEST GOSHEN— It took Haverford some time to get started Wednesday night. But over the course of 51 minutes the Fords found the right gear and prevailed 4-1 over Pennridge in a Class AA Flyers Cup semifinal at Ice Line.
Third-seeded Haverford (15-1), a winner of its last 13 starts, will face top-seed Downingtown West in Tuesday’s final at Ice Line (6:15 start). The 10th-seeded Rams closed their season at 10-6.
At the evening’s outset, the Rams face the question of how to neutralize Haverford’s speed.
They were successful for most of the first period until Dane Fichette drew the game’s first penalty at the 11:10 mark, giving the Fords the game’s first power play.
It was Pennridge however who got on the scoreboard first when Aidan Boyle blocked a shot from the high slot, which set up Aeryk Lehrhaupt for a shorthanded breakaway. Lehrhaupt deposited the puck behind Haverford goaltender Jai Jani at 13:25.
The Rams maintained their lead past the midway point of the second period but the momentum was starting to shifting the Fords’ way when Quinn Carson tied the game with at the 11:41 mark of the period; his shot from the right wing caromed off Pennridge netminder Ryan Pico and into the net.
Haverford took the lead three-and-a-minutes later when Dan Quartapella tried to score on a wraparound inside the right post. Pico made the save but Alex Gattone poked in the rebound.
Pennridge coach Jeff Montagna saw Gattone’s goal as a turning point. “That second goal took a lot out of us,” he said.
By that point, Pico was keeping Pennridge in the game; after two periods The Rams were being outshot 27-14.
The Fords controlled the third period. Jacob Orazi extended his team’s lead when he scored a shorthanded goal at the 6:44 mark off a turnover in the Pennridge zone. Dan Quartapella completed the scoring for the evening at at 10:14. At evening’s end, the Fords’ shot advantage was 37-18.
Montagna saluted his team’s effort. “They did what I wanted,” he said. “They did it our way. It wasn’t sitting back and it wasn’t just waiting for the inevitable to come, They took it to them to start that game as best they could.”
The person perhaps most impressed by Pennridge’s performance was Haverford coach John Povey. “Pennridge gave us everything that we could handle,” he said. Hats off to their team, hats off to their coaching staff.
“That was one of the tougher games we’ve played all year. Hats off to them, but hats off to our guys, down 1-0. I don’t think we’d trailed in a game since the beginning of February, so it was good for us to find a way to win.”
The Fords made some adjustments to neutralize the Rams’ early surge. “We just started getting pucks behind their (defense),” Povey said. Our forecheck was really good. Halfway through the game, we were able to possess the puck and wear them down a little bit.”
The Rams had a long ride home Wednesday night but Blake Stewart, their captain, was quick to point out that the Rams earned the right to hold their heads high at evening’s end.
“We came into the season with low expectations,” he said. “I can say right now, no one thought we’d be here, especially the only SHSHL team here. And that gave us firepower. We came into the playoffs, we came into the Flyers Cup with nothing to lose. We did nothing but prove people wrong.”
Downingtown West defeated 12th seed Avon Grove 4-3 in the other semifinal.
Pennridge 1 0 0—1
Haverford 0 2 2—4
First-period goals: Aeryk Lehrhaupt (P) from Aidan Boyle, 13:25 (sh)
Second period goals: Quinn Carson (H) from Daniel Quartapella and Nate Rabadam, 11:41; Alex Gattone (H) from Quartapella and Carson, 15:13
Third-period goals: Jacob Orazi (H) from Rabadam and Cally Moran, 6:44 (sh); Quartapella (H) Rabadam, 10:41
Shots: Pennridge 18, Haverford 37; Saves: Ryan Pico (P) 33, Jai Jani (H) 17