March 15, 2001


Roman Bussetti, (file photo)

It’s been eight years since the West Chester East ice hockey team qualified for the Flyers Cup playoffs, and the Vikings seemed primed to snap that streak in their Class AAA opening game against La Salle, winning, 5-4, in the first of a best-of-three series on Sunday night. However, Viking hopes of a Fly- ers Cup berth changed quickly in the second game as La Salle bounced back to even the series with a 4-2 victory on Tuesday night. The Vikings weren’t done as they won last night’s deciding game, 4-2, and are on their way to the Flyers Cup. Regardless of how the series ended, this has been an important year for the East program, which was in disarray at the end of last season when the Vikes finished with just three victories. New coach Roman Bussetti helped turn the team around as East (11-3-1 overall) finished second in the Inter-County Scholastic Hockey League Class AAA Division behind powerhouse Malvern Prep. The La Salle series has been a new experience for every player on the East team. “La Salle is a very disciplined team and they always play in position,” East junior forward Mark Della Vecchio said. “They’ve been sticking our whole line, hooking us sometimes, tripping us, trying to get us off our games. Regardless of what happens in the playoffs, we’re coming back with a lot of players next year and we have a real good freshman class that’s only going to get better.”

Smooth sailing. Strath Haven continued its winning ways in the ICSHL Class A-South Division playoffs, opening with a 6-4 victory over explosive Coatesville and beating Malvern II, 5-2. The Panthers then beat Penncrest, 4-3, for a berth in the Flyers Cup. There is a chance that the Panthers (26-3) will open up with Methacton, which was scheduled to play Radnor last night. Last month, Strath Haven lost 5-2, to Methacton despite having a 30-18 advantage in shots. “Every turnover we made, they capitalized on,” Strath Haven coach John Murry said of that defeat. “We tend to and it’s not just us I players tend to follow the puck. When you play teams like Methacton, you have to watch the movement of players off the puck. “With the Flyers Cup, you tend to play a more conservative game. We feel, in the end, we could be one of the finalists in the Flyers Cup if we play our “A” game.”

A league of their own. There is a chance that a new hockey league could emerge next season among the 10 schools that make up the Central League, sources said. All 10 Central League schools have hockey teams, and league representatives from eight of the 10 clubs met this week to discuss the idea. The coalition is now waiting for proposals from the Eastern League or Inter-County League, which would incorporate the league as a separate entity carrying the name “Central League” as in other sports. “Originally, that idea was proposed last year and we were willing to read- just our league to accept them as a separate division in our league,” Eastern League president Tom Arthur said. “Anything is possible and we’d be willing to work out a schedule, and we’d include the Central League teams as our Class AA Division. They would be playing locally against all of their local peers. I’m real hopeful that it does happen, and we hope they’d join our league.”. The proposal calls for an 18-game schedule, requiring each team to play the nine other teams in the league twice. The majority of the games will be played at Ice Works in Aston and the Skatium in Havertown.

True grit. Springfield’s Chris Mace keeps plugging along despite severe pain due to a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, an injury that threatened to keep the standout junior defender out of the Flyers Cup playoffs. The Cougars swept Cardinal O’Hara II in a best-of-three series, in the Eastern League Class A Division championship to advance to the Flyers Cup Class A playoffs for the second time in the program’s history. Springfield thumped O’Hara II by a combined 19-0 score in the two games, winning, 10-0, in the second contest on Friday. Mace, playing with a brace to stabilize his right knee, did not miss a shift. “After the second O’Hara game, my knee blew up,” Mace said. “I had to ice it for 15 minutes, and I’ve been going to therapy to keep the strength of my knee up.” Springfield’s first Flyers Cup playoff game will be 9:15 p.m. Tuesday at Ice Works against an opponent to be determined. The Flyers Cup is a sin- gle-elimination tournament. Mace will have surgery right after the season but is hoping the surgery doesn’t come too soon. “I don’t think I’m taking a chance,” Mace said. “The brace is holding up, and as of right now, it’s fine. It’s just painful to make certain movements if I turn the wrong way or fall wrong. I can’t do any more damage to the ACL, because it’s completely torn. My parents aren’t too thrilled about me playing, I just don’t want to miss any Flyers Cup games, and my parents respect that.”

By Joe Santoliquito
The Philadelphia Inquirer