April 4, 1992
Keith Grimley, Malvern Prep’s star forward, leaned against the concrete wall outside his team’s locker room. With his jersey already off and the runner-up trophy in hand, he tried to figure out where things went wrong with the Friars’ 1991-92 season. After Malvern battled back Tuesday to tie its best-of-three series with Council Rock for the Presidents Cup portion of the Flyers Cup championship, the Friars suffered a major lapse Thursday night and were beaten by the Indians, 9-1, at the Grundy Rink. The outcome gave the trip to Pittsburgh for the Tier II state championship to Council Rock, and the Friars had little recourse but to ponder a defeat that epitomized their season. “It pretty much sums up the season,” Grimley said. “Whenever we needed it, we couldn’t do it. We had the talent to do it this year, but we couldn’t put it together.”
Friars coach Bob Davis also tried to pinpoint where things suddenly collapsed. His team had gone 16-1-1 in the regular season, but in postseason play it went 4-4, losing its lock on the Eastern League title to Monsignor Bonner and then the Presidents Cup to Council Rock. “Whether it was a slump at the end, or whether we peaked too early, I don’t know,” Davis said. “There is nothing to put your finger on.” After Malvern opened against Council Rock with an unsightly 10-6 loss last Monday, the Friars looked like an entirely different team the next night, winning, 9-4, to knot the series. On Thursday, the Friars appeared at first to be starting right where they had left off Tuesday. They bottled up the Indians in their defensive zone and swarmed the net for loose rebounds. Even when Council Rock scored first, 4 minutes, 36 seconds into the game, on a bad angle shot that surprised goalie Rich Jensen, the Friars kept up the pressure. But Malvern’s problem was that the pressure never paid off. Several times the Friars had good chances to swat in loose rebounds, but each time the puck squirted out of reach. After Council Rock went up, 2-0, midway through the second period, Adam Russo put Malvern on the scoreboard a minute later by converting a pass from Brian Conner from behind the net to make it 2-1.
But while the Friars were still in it through much of the period, the tide suddenly turned against them in the last minute. The Indians’ Eric Kratchwell got his first of 3 goals on the night by converting a pass from the corner with 52 seconds left, and 22 seconds Bob Williams knocked in a rebound to give Council Rock a 4-1 lead. According to Davis, Malvern went to the locker room still feeling the game was not out of reach. But when Council Rock scored 26 seconds into the third period after a scramble in front, the margin simply became too great. “They got the two quick ones on us, but we thought even being down, 4-1, we still could come back,” Davis said. “If we’d scored that first goal in the third we would have been in good shape. But at 5-1, that made it a tough hill to climb.” From there, Malvern took on the look of a deflated team, and the rout was on as Council Rock scored 4 goals in the final 6 minutes. “I guess we got into some sort of slump,” said Davis, whose Friars surrendered 25 goals against Council Rock in three games, just 16 less than they had allowed during the 18-game regular season. “There were so many mental mistakes, so many little things. And all in the last five games.” Council Rock (33-8) played Johnstown for the Tier II state championship yesterday at the Pittsburgh Civic Center.
CREDIT: The Philadelphia Inquirer
By David T. Shaw – Special to the Inquirer