HATFIELD TOWNSHIP— It was hockey’s equivalent of a first-round knockout. Pennridge scored three times before the contest was nine minutes old and went on to an 8-1 win over Avon Grove Wednesday night at Hatfield Ice Arena.
The top-seeded Rams (20-0-1) will face third-seeded Council Rock South in an all-SHSHL final at this same venue, likely next Monday or Tuesday. Fifth-seeded Avon Grove closed at 14-8-0-1.
As impressive as Pennridge has been this season coach, Jeff Montagna felt his team reached a new level on this night.
“I thought was by far the best game they’ve played all year,” he said. “On the biggest stage. And in the biggest game of their lives up until that moment.”
Andrew Savona the Rams off to a fast start when he beat Justin Mackey in the Red Devils’ net 4:16 into the opening period off a feed from Kevin Pico. Shane Dachowski followed at 8:09 and Pico extended the Rams’ lead just 30 seconds later.
Jack Lowery, who assisted on two of the Rams goals, said the Rams were energized by the fast start. “The past few games we’ve been coming out a little slow,” he said, “and going down early. “We talked in the locker room before this game; the biggest thing is to come out here, score a couple goals fast.
“(Avon Grove is looking up to us. We’re the one seed. We want them chasing us, playing our game and get them off theirs. That’s exactly what we did tonight.”
Savona and Dachowski finished the evening with two goals each. Pico had two assists to go with his goal. A total of six players had multi-point games.
Lowery pointed out that the Rams’ fast-paced style is easier to implement with veteran Ryan Pico in goal.
“We can rely on Ryan every game,” he said. “Every game, no matter what, he’s back there making good saves for us. When you have a goalie like that, you can take some chances.”
Avon Grove’s only goal was a power-play effort off the stick of Brendan Chandler 6:33 into the third period.
The Flyers Cup final and possibly a state championship game are still ahead but Lowery, a senior knows his time with the Rams is drawing to a close. That realization has sharpened his focus.
“These are the last games I’m going to be playing competitively in youth hockey,” he said. “All I want to do is win, that’s all we want to do.”
Avon Grove 0 0 1—1
Pennridge 3 1 1 3—8
First-period goals: Andrew Savona (P) from Kevin Pico, 4:16; Shane Dachowski (P) from Aidan Boyle and Jack Lowery, 8:09; Pico (P) from Tyler Manto, 8:39
Second-period goals: Manto (P) from Dachowski, 11:49 (sh)
Third-period goals: Savona (P) from Pico, 1:32; Brendan Chandler (AG) from Will Gorman, 6:33 (pp); Aeryk Lehrhaupt (P) unassisted, 10:57 (pp); Ryan Schuler (PP) from David, 14:22; Dachowski (P) from Lowery and Schuler,16:24
Shots: Avon Grove 26, Pennridge 39; Saves: Justin Mackley (AG) 31, Ryan Pico (Pr) 25