March 14, 2000

Steve Easley would have preferred to be named Conwell-Egan’s ice hockey coach under different circumstances, but he appreciates the opportunity nonetheless. “Who wouldn’t be excited to jump in and possibly win the Flyers Cup and state championships?” said. Easley, 26, was tabbed as the Eagles’ interim head coach when Steve Urglavitch resigned Wednesday, a day after the squad lost to Father Judge, 4-1, in the deciding game of the Lower Bucks County Scholastic Hockey League championship series.

Steve Urglavitch

Urglavitch, 30, was booed as he walked onto the ice after the loss to accept the league’s second-place trophy. Citing continuing verbal abuse from some parents associated with the program and a lack of commitment from some varsity players, Urglavitch informed club president Art Stevenson of his decision to resign. Urglavitch, who had guided Conwell-Egan to a 16-6-2 record in the regular season and a sweep of Holy Ghost Prep in the playoff semifinals, was in his first season as a volunteer coach. The hockey team is not officially affiliated with the school. “When a coach goes out that way, you feel bad, of course,” Easley said. “I respect Steve as a coach and friend. He did what he felt he had to do. I can understand that.” Easley, a 1991 graduate of Bishop Egan, was a varsity assistant coach under Urglavitch and the head coach of the club’s JV program. He will be calling the shots Thursday when the Eagles begin defense of their Class AAA Flyers Cup championship. His first practice as head coach is scheduled for tonight. “It’s kind of late to come in with any kind of major changes,” Easley said. “I plan to communicate with the team captains, get their input into what they feel we need to do to move the team forward and give us the best chance of winning the Flyers Cup,” Easley said. Conwell-Egan will face Washington Township, the top-seeded squad from the South Jersey High School Hockey League, at 8 p.m. Thursday at Hollydell Twin Rinks in Sewell, Gloucester County. If the Eagles defeat Washington Township, they will meet the champion of the Suburban High School Hockey League, either Germantown Academy or Council Rock, next Tuesday in the quarterfinals.

Conwell-Egan lost to Washington Township in late December in a holiday tournament at Ice Line Triple Rinks in West Chester. “I want to find out more about them,” Easley said, “but I think our team is talented enough where we can go out and dictate the tempo of the game. “If we use our speed to the fullest, we should be OK,” Easley said. Easley was a winger while playing for Bishop Egan. The Langhorne resident helped lead the Eagles to the Class A state championship in 1990. He went on to play at Millersville, competing for the school’s club team.

Rubber match. The third and deciding game of the Suburban championship series, between Germantown Academy and Council Rock, will be played at 8:30 tonight at the Face-Off Circle in Warminster. GA won Game 1, 6-3. Rock evened the series Thursday, jumping out to a 3-0 lead en route to a 5-2 victory. “We played a lot better in the defensive zone,” Rock coach Paul Gilligan said. “We played smarter, did a better job of taking care of the puck.” Senior defenseman Brian Bowker notched two first-period goals to key Thursday’s victory. Junior center Steve Tyrol, freshman winger/center Joe Colletti and senior defenseman Dave Ciarrocchi notched single tallies. Said Gilligan: “Our guys were more disciplined in terms of the shots they were taking.” Sophomore goalie Milos Holcner, an exchange student from the Czech Republic, stopped 20 shots in Game 2.

Explorers advance. La Salle, the runner-up to Malvern Prep in the Inter-County Scholastic Hockey League AAA Division, went 3-0 in the league’s round-robin, double-elimination tournament to qualify for the Class AAA Flyers Cup. The Explorers defeated Conestoga, 5-1, and twice beat West Chester Henderson, by 5-1 and 7-2, to earn their third straight trip to the Flyers Cup. They will face Lower Dauphin, the top seed from the Central Pennsylvania Interscholastic Hockey League, in a first-round game tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. at Ice Line. La Salle, which claimed the 1998 Flyers Cup, is paced on offense by seniors Pete Naticchione and Brett Urban.

Waiting game. Holy Ghost Prep, third-place finisher in the Lower Bucks league, will begin action in the Class AA Flyers Cup next Tuesday against the Suburban league representative, either William Tennent or Cheltenham. The Firebirds last played on Feb. 29, when they fell to Conwell-Egan, 5-2, in the deciding game of the Lower Bucks playoff semifinals. That’s a 21-day layoff between games. “We’ve just been practicing,” Holy Ghost coach Brian Tibbels said. “Not playing any games is kind of frustrating, but that’s just the way things worked out. There’s nothing we can do about it.” The Firebirds, led by senior center Ryan Tocicki, reached the final of the Class AA Flyers Cup last season before losing to La Salle II, 3-0. Pennsbury, which will compete in the Class A Flyers Cup beginning Monday, has the same concern. The Falcons last played on Feb. 24, in a 3-2 loss to Archbishop Ryan in the first round of the Lower Bucks playoffs.

By Rick O’Brien
Philadelphia Inquirer Correspondent