April 6, 1989
The results of last week’s opening round-robin format of the Flyers Cup Championship at the Skatium established Malvern Prep and Central Bucks as the favorites to meet in the finals of the tournament. So much for early returns. On Monday, Malvern was ousted from the tournament when it was dealt a 5-3 semifinal loss by William Tennent, and the following night, Central Bucks was derailed by Conestoga, 4-3, in overtime in the other semifinal. “It shows you can come in here with all the firepower and just not make it on any given night,” said Malvern coach Bob Martin, whose team also lost last year in the semifinals. For Conestoga, meanwhile, it was a history reversing itself. Last season the Pioneers were knocked out in the tournament’s semifinals, and in overtime no less. But Tuesday, the Pioneers eventually made the best of their efforts, rallying with 3 goals in the last period before Christian Rigamonti’s goal 7 minutes, 19 seconds into sudden-death overtime snapped a 3-3 tie. The win advanced Conestoga into Monday night’s 7:45 final against Tennent (19-1-1), who the Pioneers tied in the regular season, 1-1. The Pioneers (22-2-1) last won the Flyers Cup in 1986. Against Central Bucks, Conestoga had several good chances to score in the first period but failed. The Blazers got a goal early on by Tom Cole and extended its lead to 2-0 in the second period on Steve Richards’ shot that beat Conestoga goalie John White (23 saves) to the stick side.
After their second period lapse, in which Conestoga got only two shots on goal and left the ice down, 2-0, Pioneers coach Taylor Railton lectured his team. “I chewed them up one side and down the other,” Railton said. “I told them I didn’t mind losing, but it didn’t seem like they were trying.” The Pioneers then came out flying as they did in the opening period, and again created scoring chances. And the effort paid off with a 3-goal blitz in a 3-minute span midway through the period. Darrell Fauver scored first from the left point on a power play, fed by Rigamonti in the corner. Two minutes later, Chris Stagnero converted a rebound, followed by Mike Oh’s score on a rebound in the next minute. The game went into overtime after the Blazers tied the game at 3-3 with 3:20 remaining on Skip Miller’s deflection. Rigamonti’s game-winner then came on a rebound left by Blazer’s goalie Scott Blore. Sibby Browne tried stuffing the puck from behind the net and it squirted across the crease, where Rigamonti was waiting. It was a play that typified how important goaltending has been in the tournament. Malvern fell short Monday when it encountered a hot William Tennent goalie, Scott Shaw, despite outskating the Panthers, suffered a 5-3 loss. It was Malvern’s first loss on ice over the course of the season. Though the Friars finished with a 22- 2 record, their previous loss came from a forfeit to Conestoga because of a scheduling conflict. It was a disheartening way for the season to end for Malvern, which had skated almost effortlessly past all teams before the tough Tennent club it faced Monday. “Something was missing tonight,” Martin said. “I think we were a little overconfident and I could tell before the game the kids were too loose. But we played good hockey and put pressure on them in their zone, though we just couldn’t put it in.” The main reason was Shaw as Malvern peppered the Tennent netminder with 47 shots in the game and came out with just 3 goals. Shaw was at his best in the second period, when Malvern fired 20 shots but came up empty. Tennent took advantage of Shaw’s heroics by gaining a 3-2 lead in the period when Mark Hewitt beat Friars’ goalie Chris Dempsey on a rebound off Mike Lang’s shot. That score was Tennent’s third straight in the game. Malvern’s Derek Amoroso had opened the scoring 1 minute into the contest, batting in a pass from Mulhern in the corner. Three minutes later, Mulhern scored a power-play goal, converting a pass from Amoroso behind the net for a 2-0 Malvern lead. But Tennent battled back, as Lance LaTare scored for the Panthers on a power play with 8:08 left in the frame, and with just 3 seconds remaining Paul Gregg netted a power play goal to tie the game, 2-2. After Malvern’s frustrating second period and then falling behind, the Friars came back in the final period to tie the game when Amoroso let go a low wrist shot that beat Shaw to the stick side, but Tennent’s Dana Christ regained the Panthers’ lead 2 minutes later on a 20-footer from the left wing. With 4:09 left to play, Tennent sealed the victory with a goal from Mike Lang, when he stole the puck from Malvern defenseman Ron Imhof and went in alone on Dempsey, making it 5-3. “There wasn’t any kind of game plan, they just did it on guts,” Tennent coach Joe Paul said. “Scotty Shaw was just unbelievable.”
CREDIT: The Philadelphia Inquirer
By David T. Shaw – Special to the Inquirer