March 31, 1988
The word meltdown took on a new meaning this week when, in the span of 24 hours, all four area ice hockey teams competing in postseason play suffered losses that put an end to their seasons. The most surprising losses came on successive nights at the Havertown Skatium during the Flyers Cup Championship semifinals. On Monday, Conestoga was eliminated from the tournament by a 4-3 loss in overtime to Council Rock, and the following night saw defending champion Malvern Prep ousted in a 4-3 upset by Bishop Egan. In the Inter-County League’s President’s Cup tournament at the General Washington Rink, Archbishop Carroll fell to Downingtown, 12-4, in a semifinal game Tuesday, and Lower Merion lost in the semifinals the same night to West Chester East, 7-3, putting an abrupt end to both their seasons. At the Skatium, fans were hoping for a Malvern-Conestoga rematch from the 1987 final saw their wishes fall one game short. On Monday, Conestoga and Council Rock (22-0-2) had skated to a scoreless first period, when 5 minutes into the second frame, winger Ross Cowan converted a high pass from linemate Geordie Shaw in front to make it 1-0. But Council Rock answered with a tying goal by Chris Cerverllero on their very next offensive rush, then went ahead two minutes later on a goal by Dave Cohen. The backbreaker might have come early in the third period on an Indians’ power-play goal by Lance Harry that put Conestoga behind, 3-1, but an ensuing pair of penalties to Council Rock gave the Pioneers a much-needed opportunity. Conestoga’s Doug Smink cashed in on the two-man advantage with a wrist shot past Indians’ goalie Brian Bradley with 5:37 remaining to narrow it to 3-2, and Cowan followed with his second goal of the night, again on a pass from Shaw, to knot the game at 3-3 with 3:25 remaining. With the game tied at the end of regulation, the teams skated scoreless through two 5-minute periods, although Conestoga kept tremendous pressure on Bradley, who kept making one big save after another. In all, Bradley made 43 saves in the contest, as Conestoga outshot Council Rock, 46-35. But the Indians’ 35th shot ended Conestoga’s season. From outside the left faceoff circle, Cerverllero’s intended pass to the front of the net trickled through Pioneer goalie Steve Riley’s pads, catching the far corner for the game-winner at 14:03 into overtime. “It was a tough way to go, but a lot of them end that way,” said Pioneer coach Taylor Railton, whose team ended the season at 18-3. “My kids did a super job. We had our chances, but [Bradley] made some great saves.” Malvern Prep had its own bundle of chances the following night, but likewise ran into a hot goaltender in Bish- op Egan’s Rich Burgess. In what should have been a battle of goaltenders between Burgess and Malvern goalie Jason Myrtetus both averaged giving up a fraction over a goal per game during the season it was Burgess who came out the winner. Myrtetus gave up four goals on just 14 shots, and Burgess staved off 38 Malvern shots. After a 1-1 tie in the opening period, Malvern went up, 2-1, late in the next period when Chick Kelly knocked in a rebound of Jim Gibson’s shot. But the Eagles’ Tom Edwards responded with 1:33 left when he knocked in a botched clear by Myrtetus to tie it, then put his team up, 3-2, just 32 seconds later on a low corner blast from a faceoff draw. Gibson tied the contest at 3-3 midway through the third period on a back- hand shot, but Edwards completed his hat trick on a power-play goal with 6:38 left in the game to give Egan (23-5) a 4-3 lead they never relinquished. Malvern continued to pepper Burgess in the game’s final minutes, but the Friars were unable to put any shots past him. At the buzzer, the Friars had been dethroned of their 1987 Flyers Cup title, ending their year at 23-2. In the Inter-County’s President’s Cup tournament, Carroll played Downingtown to a 2-1 deficit after the first period but slumped after their opponents pushed the margin to 6-3 after two periods. In the final frame, the Patriots were outscored 6-1, losing the game by a 12-4 final. Rich Merhar and Glenn McClelland each scored two goals for Carroll, as the Patriots ended the year at 6-13-1. In the second semifinal game, Lower Merion had East down a goal in the opening frame after Larry Kagan scored, but the Vikings came back to tie it before the period was out. The Aces eventually fell behind, 6-1, in the third period, before Steve Turner’s two goals narrowed the final to 7-3. Lower Merion ended it’s season at 8-10-2.
CREDIT: The Philadelphia Inquirer
By David T. Shaw – Special to the Inquirer