April 1, 1985

In one of his on-screen narratives, German filmmaker Werner Herzog remarked, “Everyday life is just an illusion beyond which lies the reality of dreams.” The players of the Conestoga ice hockey team can relate to that quote right about now. Tonight, at the Skatium in Havertown, the Conestoga boys will be looking to abandon everyday life and turn their dreams into reality. Tonight, at the Skatium, the Conestoga skaters face the Cougars of Cherry Hill East for the 1985 Flyers Cup. The last two years, Conestoga made it to the Flyers Cup (the annual scholastic ice hockey postseason competition that matches the four Delaware Valley league champions in a showdown for the coveted cup) in pursuit of the dream, and both times the boys from the Berwyn school were hurled back into reality with two straight losses. This year’s Conestoga team, the champion of the Intercounty Scholastic Hockey League, arrived for Cup play with a glittering 21-0 record and a reputation for choking in Flyers Cup competition. The Conestoga players had something to prove (that they were capable of competing with the best teams from the other leagues), and they had a mission (to win the Cup). After their first game (a 7-2 win over Archbishop Ryan on March 22), they left little doubt that they were capable of winning it all. Their second-round game, which was played March 25 at the Skatium, was expected to be more difficult, with the high-scoring Fords of Haverford High as their opponents. The Fords earned the right to play Conestoga in the second round of Cup play by upending Cherry Hill East in overtime in the nightcap of the opening-night doubleheader on March 22. In all other sports, Haverford High and Conestoga are Central League rivals. However, in ice hockey, Conestoga is a powerhouse in the ICSHL, whereas the Fords are annually one of the best squads in the Eastern High School Hockey League (EHSHL).

When last Monday’s showdown of Main Line rivals got under way, the teams played even for the first 10 minutes, and then Conestoga got hot and eventually won the contest by a comfortable 8-2 score. At the 10:26 mark, Jobie Bray used assists from Scott Cowan and David Berkowitz to score the game’s first goal and give Conestoga a 1-0 advantage. Slightly more than a minute later, Conestoga moved out to a 2-0 lead when David Smink scored off assists by Chris Cummings and Bill Railton. Exactly 36 seconds later, another Bray-from-Cowan-and-Berkowitz combination clicked, and the Pioneers had a three-goal margin. In the final minute of the first period, Conestoga raised the score to 4-0 when Smink tallied again on a power-play goal. On the scoring play, Cowan got his third assist of the game and Cummings his second. The Fords were down but not out. In the middle period, the Haverford offense came to life. Two-and-a-half minutes into the period, Jordy Blum. got the ice-breaker for the Fords, with Mike Leen providing the assist. With 2:30 left in the period, Leen cut Conestoga’s lead again when he reg- istered an unassisted goal for Haver- ford High. At the end of two periods, the score remained 4-2. The first goal of the third period was a critical one, and Conestoga got it. The Conestoga boys also got the next three goals in the third period and accounted for all the period’s scoring. The first was scored by Tony Parisi off an assist by Scott Cowan. Cowan scored the next one himself, aided by Dave Berkowitz and Tony Parisi. The third was knocked in on a power play by Chip Graham with the assists credited to Mike Stagnaro and Dave Smink, and then Berkowitz closed the game’s scoring with an unassisted tally.

“I think you can see that we’re playing as a team now,” said Conestoga bench coach Bob Anderson, moments after his team’s win over Haverford High. “We knew that Haverford had their game together, but we weren’t concerned with the way they were playing. Our focus was on the way we had to play. The key was concentrating on what we wanted to do.” By winning last Monday, Cones- toga lifted its Flyers Cup record to 2-0 and earned an automatic berth in tonight’s championship game. Haver- ford, meanwhile, had to wait until Wednesday to face the winner of Tuesday’s Archbishop Ryan-Cherry Hill East game. In that game, the powerful Cougars from South Jersey never allowed the Ryan Raiders to get in the game and skated off with an impressive 9-3 win. The Cougars were ready for the Fords, and they arrived at the Skatium last Wednesday still seething from their overtime loss to Haver- ford High the previous week. The squads skated through a scoreless first period, and then, at 8:58 of the middle period, the Fords got on the board when hot-handed Joe Moran scored a power-play goal off an assist by Geoff Skidmore. A little more than three minutes into the third period, the Cougars drew even when Mike Black scored the equalizer off assists from Jamie Leach (son of former Flyers great Reggie Leach) and Jeff Cook. With four minutes left in regulation, Cherry Hill East’s Todd Lehr blasted a 40 foot slapshot past Haverford High goalkeeper Jay Robinson for what proved to be the game-winning goal. The Cougars finished the game out-shooting the Fords 27-15.

Tonight, the showdown is set between the Cougars and Conestoga. Face-off is set for 8 p.m., and approximately two hours later, there will be a new Flyers Cup champion crowned (Archbishop Ryan, last year’s titlist, was the first team eliminated this year). “The championship game should be a great one, and we expect a crowd of close to 800,” said Flyers Cup tournament director Andy Abramson. “The Flyers Cup has been going very well this year, and we’ve had some of the closest games ever in Cup history. The crowds have been good, and the gate has already surpassed last year.”

CREDIT: The Philadelphia Inquirer

Denny Dyroff – Special to the Inquirer