WEST GOSHEN TOWNSHIP—Pennridge and Thomas Jefferson matched each other stride for stride and shift for shift Saturday afternoon. At day’s end, it was the Rams who prevailed.
Kevin Pico’s goal 12:01 into the second overtime gave his team a 4-3 win over the Jaguars in the Pennsylvania Class AA state championship game in front of a full house at Ice Line.
The victory was well earned.
“That was a fabulous hockey game,” said Pennridge coach Montagna. “It was just a great game.”
Andrew Savona, Jack Lowery, and Tyler Manto scored regulation goals for Pennridge, which completed its season at 22-0-1.
The Rams enjoyed a 2-1 lead going into the third period but soon found themselves back on their heels. Colby Bilski scored his second goal of the game off a turnover 3:43 into the period to draw Thomas Jefferson (21-2) even before setting up Nick Stock during a power play to put the Jaguars up 3-2 at 7:31.
Lowery noted and his teammates stayed on an emotional even keel at that point, despite being behind.
“There was not an ounce of panic on our bench,” he said. “We were calm. “We knew that we’ve come back in multiple games before. Every championship game we’ve been in (In the SHSHL and Flyers Cup finals) we’ve been down and come back and won. And there wasn’t a doubt in our minds that we were going to come out in this game on top.”
Indeed, the Rams responded. Tyler Manto tied the game with 5:22 left in the regulation to leave the two teams searching for whatever they might have left for overtime.
“We did not have a lot left in overtime,” Montagna said.
In the end Pico scored the most significant goal of his career, after Manto and Savona worked the pick down low. The goal came off a rebound of Savona’s original shot
“That’s probably the biggest goal I’m ever going to score my whole hockey career,” Pico said.
Had it not been for Ryan Pico’s work in the Pennridge net, the drama might have ended differently. The senior goaltender faced 65 shots and turned 62 of them aside against an opponent Montagna called the best his team faced all season (the Rams were outshot 62-49).
“He was unbelievable,” Kevin Pico said of his brother. I’ve never seen him play that good in my whole life.”
Montagna echoed those sentiments. “Ryan Pico was absolutely incredible,” he said. “He kept us in there”
The postgame awards pentation and celebration was an emotional time for Lowery, one of the Pennridge captains.
“I feel like I’m top of the world right now,” he said. “No one can take me from that. We said all year, ‘Until this game is over, the job is not finished.’ And it feels great. The job is finally finished for us.
“That’s a hell of a hockey team we played today. It really could have gone either way. But we came out, played our game and came out on top. That’s just all we could do.”
Thomas Jefferson 0 1 2 0 0—3
Pennridge 2 0 1 0 1—4
First-period goals: Andrew Savona (P) from Tyler Manto, 1:13; Jack Lowery from Aeryk Lehrhaupt, 9:41 (pp)
Second-period goal: Colby Biski (TJ) from Lance Smith, 10:10 (pp)
Third-period goals: Bilski (TJ) from Brett Smith, 3:43; Lance Smith (TJ) from Nick Stock and Bilski, 7:31 (pp); Manto (P) from Colin Dachowski, 11:38
Second-overtime goal: Kevin Pico (P) from Manto and Savona, 12:01
Shots: Thomas Jefferson 65, Pennridge 49; Saves: Billy Siemon (TJ) 45, Ryan Pico (P) 62