April 7, 1983
There are people who will say that in 1983, Germantown Academy won a tainted state scholastic hockey championship. But as far as the Patriots are concerned, people can say what they want — the Pats have proven they go best with ice. Germantown Academy, fresh off its second consecutive Flyers Cup championship, capped a truly brilliant season with a 3-1 victory over Pittsburgh champ Bethel Park Saturday to win the Pennsylvania Inter-scholastic Ice Hockey championship. With the victory, the Patriots hope they have discredited, if not laid to rest, the snickering that they did not belong in the first place. The controversy began several weeks back, when Germantown Academy was defeated by Cherry Hill East in the Suburban Hockey League playoffs. Up to that point, G.A. had runoff 22 straight victories, including a win over East in the first game of the playoff finals. The Patriots also had defeated Cherry Hill East twice during the regular season after being tied by East in the season opener.
By defeating GA, East earned the right to compete as the Suburban Hockey League’s representative in the Flyers Cup or so East thought. It seems that Flyers Cup by-laws prohibit non-Pennsylvania teams from participating. Never mind that Cherry Hill is closer to Philadelphia than most of the Pennsylvania teams in the Suburban Hockey League. The rationale behind the ruling is that if a non-Pennsylvania team won the Cup, its meeting the Pittsburgh champ would not constitute a true state championship. “I’ve always felt the rule was wrong,” said Bruce Craig, the Germantown Academy coach, “and from what I understand, next year, there’s going to be a major effort to change it. We weren’t going to go, but Jeff Cook, Cherry Hill’s captain, asked us at to represent them.”
“We felt bad about it,” said Germantown Academy co-captain J.J. Reydel, who, after the final loss to no Cherry Hill and knowing that G.A. would be allowed to continue play. entered East’s locker room to console its players. “It was an unfortunate situation. They won, and they the deserved to go. “But there’s also another way of looking at it. Prior to those playoffs, we had established ourselves as a pretty good team. We went in riding a 22-game winning streak and perhaps we were due for a letdown. Perhaps we played those games with less intensity than previously. Even though we lost two straight to Cherry Hill, we still won the season series, 3-2-1. “When I left that locker room, our philosophy was, ‘What’s done is done, and we were going to do our best from that point on.”
“In the beginning of the Flyers Cup, we didn’t think we deserved to be there, but soon, the kids lost track that they were second best,” Craig said. “We regrouped and really started to play good hockey.” GA lost its initial Flyers Cup contest to Bishop Egan, 5-4, but then rallied to take Conestoga, 6-2, and Malvern, 7-2, to reach its awaited rematch with Egan for the title. The Patriots skated to a 4-1 first-period lead, watched Egan tie the game at 5- 5, then rallied for four unanswered third-period goals to win 9-5.
Saturday evening in Johnstown’s War Memorial Coliseum, GA got two goals from Mike McGregor, the final one being an empty-netter, and one from Ben Wurts. There was good goaltending from Dan Stefano and Mike Richter to subdue gritty Bethel Park for Pennsylvania bragging rights. “It was a great way to end up,” said Craig, who is stepping down from his Germantown Academy post to pursue graduate school and concentrate more on his job in the bursar’s office. at the University of Pennsylvania. “By the end of the season, the kids had proven to me that they were a legitimately good hockey team, and nothing should detract from that.”
The Germantown Academy Patriots sat in a cramped locker room feeling the tension play Rubik’s Cube with their stomachs. In a few minutes they would take the ice against Bethel Park for the Pennsylvania Cup, the hockey hard- ware signifying a state championship. According to witnesses, defenseman Rob Schlegel shuffled over to goalie Mike Richter and kicked over his equipment bag. “Shut up!” he ranted. “You’re big and you’re ugly and you stink!” Schlegel wasn’t screaming at Richter. He was addressing Richter’s goalie pads. “Mike’s superstitious,” Schlegel explained, “and he talks to his equipment like it’s human.
We all started talking to his pads as if they’re part of the team. When he bought a new pair, we kidded the old pair about how they were going to lose their job.” The Patriots lost most of their tension after Schlegel snapped out at the equipment. They skated onto the ice Saturday at Johnstown, Pa., and skated off with a 3-1 cup victory. “It lightened up the whole situation,” said Germantown Academy coach Bruce Craig. “We went out and had a good warmup as opposed to the situation I feared. When it’s a little tight, Robby will loosen it up with a comment.” The GA defense was a little too loose near the end of last year. Craig needed an offensive defenseman with good passing skills who could get the puck heading up ice in a hurry. He moved Schlegel from a wing to defense and kept him there throughout this season.
Schlegel’s goal output fell off from 18 last year to nine, but the important stat was this: GA went. 26-3-1 and won its second straight Flyers Cup few days before taking the Pennsylvania Cup “I was the type of winger who played in front of the net all the time,” said the 5-foot-9 Schlegel, The Inquirer’s suburban athlete of the week. “I miss being in on the action. When we’re playing a weak team, it gets boring. It seems like the puck never gets into your end. “Of course, when we play a team like Bishop Egan in the Flyers Cup, the puck always seems to be in your end.” But rarely in the net. Thanks to Rob Schlegel. And Richter’s big, ugly pads.
CREDIT: The Philadelphia Inquirer