1986 Conestoga Pioneers Class AAA Flyers Cup Champions
1986 Conestoga Pioneers Class AAA Flyers Cup Champions

April 7, 1986

When Conestoga faced off against Malvern Prep in the championship game of the Flyers Cup last Thursday night at the Skatium, it was an all-or-nothing situation. The Conestoga boys had a 28-0 record entering the game, but not one of those wins would have meant a thing had they gone belly up in the final. The Conestoga skaters, however, were not to be denied. In the three previous seasons, they had made it to the Flyers Cup, and in each of the three tourneys, they had returned home empty-handed. This time around, Conestoga left no doubt that it was the best team in the cup competition.
At 9:26 p.m. Thursday night, the final seconds ticked off the scoreboard clock at the Skatium. When the buzzer sounded, Conestoga’s icemen were possessors of a 9-5 victory, and they officially became the 1986 Flyers Cup champions. “I certainly feel relieved,” said Conestoga captain David Smink, a senior who has played in the Flyers Cup each of the last four years. “It’s been well worth it, and it’s been a lot of fun. We’ve been snakebitten the last three years, but it helped that we’d been through it before.”

Pioneers McComas celebrates as time winds down
to their first Flyers Cup win

Malvern Prep’s Matt Acerba scored the game’s first goal before 2 minutes had elapsed, and the assist was credited to Andy Imhof. Less than a 1:30 later, Smink and Chris Cummings assisted on a blistering slapshot goal from the point by defenseman Tom Kegel. When the first period approached the 10-minute mark, Smink put Conestoga ahead when he scored off assists by Cummings and Bill Railton. Cummings then closed the period’s scoring with a powerplay goal with just 1:42 remaining before the first break. Despite having been outshot 22-3 in the first period, the Friars came back strong at the start of the middle frame. With 5 minutes played, Malvern’s Jeff Spencer scored off assists from Rob Christy and Chic Kelly. Two minutes later, teammate Sam Aube tallied to knot the score at 3-3. Aube was assisted by Steve Kinsley and Matt Lannen. Conestoga quickly regained the momentum and reeled off three unanswered goals in a 5-minute span. Smink opened the scoring with a Railton assisted powerplay goal, and then Railton scored with assists from Smink and Marc Daly. The third goal of the three was a Smink assisted goal by Cummings, which squeezed its way through a narrow slit between the post and the leg of Friars goalie Mike Longo. “I knew it would be a high-scoring game tonight,” said Cummings, another one of the seniors who was successful in his last chance bid for the Cup. “Now that we’ve finally won the Flyers Cup, it’s just an unbelievable feeling.” Malvern Prep’s Lannen concluded the scoring in the middle period with a goal 9 seconds before the buzzer with the assist registered by Kinsley. At 4:38 of the final period, Smink gave Conestoga some breathing room when he scored his third goal of the game with Greg Sparks assisting. Malvern’s Acerba scored a powerplay goal 4 minutes later to bring the Friars to within two again. However, Conestoga tallied the game’s final two goals to keep a safe distance from the Friars. The eighth Conestoga goal was scored by Railton with assists by Smink and Cummings and then Dave Smink scored the final tally off an assist by Tom Kegel. “We wanted to come into the championship game with a positive attitude,” said Dave Smink, who received the Bobby Clarke Trophy as the MVP of the Flyers Cup and the trophy for being the tourney’s high scorer. “We knew we had the ability, and we knew Malvern would give us a tough game. We all knew that if we persevered and played our game, we could do it.” Ironically, the match up in the final game of this year’s Flyers Cup was exactly the same as that of the tourney’s opening game on March 24. In the opening round, Conestoga beat Malvern 6-2, Malvern cruised past William Penn 11-3, and Conestoga crushed William Penn 15-1 in the Orange Division. In the Black Division, Archbishop Wood finished 2-0, Pennsbury 1-1, and Cheltenham 0-2. In last week’s semifinals, Conestoga held on to beat Pennsbury 4-1 Monday, and Malvern Prep eliminated Archbishop Wood 5- 4 on Wednesday.

As Flyers Cup champion, Conestoga now moves on to the state championship game the Pennsylvania Cup. The Conestoga boys are the defending state champs, having knocked off Mount Lebanon in last year’s state title game, which was held at the Face Off Circle in Warminster. (Last year’s Flyers Cup champion, Cherry Hill East, was ineligible for the Pennsylvania Cup because it is a New Jersey school, so runner up Conestoga, as the highest Pennsylvania finisher, went to the state title game). This year, the Pennsylvania Cup game will be in Pittsburgh Saturday and Conestoga’s opponent will be Upper St. Clair.

The Skatium has been a busy ice arena over the last two weeks. In addition to hosting nine Flyers Cup contests, the Skatium also was the site of this year’s AHAUS (Amateur Hockey Association of the U.S.) Junior “B” National Championships.

Smink stars in class, as well as athletics

David Smink honored for both on and
off of the ice accomplishments

Both Conestoga’s Dave Smink and Lower Merion’s Catherine McCarthy are double superstars, as athletes and students. Smink, Conestoga’s high-scoring ice hockey star, and McCarthy, a prolific goal scorer in lacrosse, are shining examples of the term scholar-athlete. Smink was the top scorer in the Inter-County Scholastic Hockey League this season with 33 goals and 35 assists during the regular season. It was last week, however, that he led Conestoga to the Flyers Cup championship, emblematic of scholastic ice hockey supremacy in the Philadelphia area. This weekend, Conestoga takes on Upper St. Clair in Pittsburgh for the Pennsylvania Cup in the state title game. Smink, a senior, scored three goals and added four assists in Conestoga’s 9-5 title win over Malvern Prep Thursday. For the Flyers Cup tournament, he knocked home 9 goals and tacked on 10 assists and was named the tourney’s most valuable player. Off the ice, Smink’s credentials are just as impressive. An honor student at Conestoga, he is a National Merit finalist. “He’s a born leader. He’s unselfish. And he’s probably the smartest player I’ve ever had. That’s important in hockey because the game moves so fast, you have to think on your feet,” Conestoga ice hockey coach Taylor Railton said. Smink’s presence at center helped to make his line the most potent in the ICSHL. While he led the league in scoring, wings Bill Railton (Taylor’s son) and Chris Cummings were the second and fifth leading scorers, respectively. “It’s hard to say what his strength is, because he’s so good at everything,” coach Railton said. “He’s an outstanding offensive player, not just as a scorer but as a playmaker. And then the reverse of that is that he’s a wonderful penalty killer.”

CREDIT: The Philadelphia Inquirer

Denny Dyroff – Special to the Inquirer