March 8, 2001

The Friars are 12-1 in the Inter-County AAA and 23-4-1 overall, looking to lock up first place and a first-round bye.

The Malvern Prep ice hockey team is rounding into form at exactly the right time of the season. The Friars are leading the Inter-County Scholastic Hockey League Class AAA Division with a 12-1 record and are 23-4-1 overall. The Friars have almost assured first place and a bye to the Flyers Cup Class AAA playoffs as the Inter-County Class AAA No. 1 seed. The Flyers Cup playoffs will begin March 16 and the Friars need just one point in their next three games to clinch first place in the Inter-County Class AAA for the second-straight season. They have been on a torrid streak in the Inter-County League, averaging 6.5 goals and allowing 2.1 goals a game. Perhaps the only thing left for Malvern is to shore up what are considered its few weak points. “We’re making sure our defensive coverages are good and we’re not getting caught with too many men around the net,” said Father Ed Casey, Malvern’s assistant coach. “We can’t fall asleep and lose focus on defense, that’s our biggest concern.” Offensively, Malvern entered the season confident in its first line of juniors Mike McMullen, Jimmy Gehring, and Tim Wochok. Actually, it has been the Friars’ second line of junior Phil McKeon, and sophomores Brett Watson and Mike Curran that has been the most successful offensively. “That second line has absolutely carried us at times this season,” Father Casey said. “That second line is young and we expected them to score goals. The expectations were high. To be truthful, though, we didn’t expect the second line to be as productive as they’ve been. Watson and Curran are both finishers and McKeon creates his own scoring chances.” The productivity of two lines will make the Friars even more dangerous in the Flyers Cup, making defending them more difficult. “Coach [John] Graves was looking for some chemistry and he found it in that line,” Father Casey said. Malvern last advanced to the Flyers Cup finals in 1999, when the Friars lost to Conwell-Egan in sudden-death overtime. Malvern has reached the finals in two of the last four years, in ’97 and ’99.

Mighty Munchkins. Archbishop Carroll coach Bill Hammond was expecting good things from juniors Stefano Tecce and Ta Ung, but Hammond has received a lot more than expected. Tecce (23 goals and 25 assists) and Ung (23 goals and 27 assists) have combined for 98 points in helping the defending Flyers Cup Class AA champions to a 10-3 record in the Inter-County Class AA Division and 16-5-2 overall. They are tiny forwards (Tecce is 5-foot-6 and Ung is 5-5), but use their considerable speed to make up for their lack of size. “They’re so fast and think the game so well, they’re just a very lethal scoring duo,” Hammond said. “The real beauty about them is that neither of them are puck hogs. They’re constantly setting each other up for goals. They’re not kids who stand around. They’re constantly moving and are very good skill-wise.” Their size belies their physicality. Opposing players who line up against Tecce and Ung feel they can easily overpower them. It also helps that they’re forwards on a line with Dave Moccia, the Patriots center and The Inquirer’s Main Line and Delaware County area player of the year last season. Moccia leads Inter-County Class AA in scoring with 30 goals and 38 assists. “The three of them complement each other very well because Moccia is a very physical player, much more physical than the other two,” Hammond said. “Dave is a very strong kid, people don’t ride him off the puck very easily. He does the physical work down low. The three are very unselfish players, and that’s why it works so well.”

Holding the top spot. Springfield has maintained first place with an 8-5-1 record in the Eastern League Class A Division and is 8-6-1 overall. All of the Cougars’ losses have come against Class AAA teams. Springfield’s defense and balanced offense have kept the team winning, despite not playing one game this season against a Class A school under the new

competitive scheduling in the Eastern League. Chris Mace and Dan Lucey make up one of the best defensive duos in the area. “Danny is a four-year varsity player, and there are not many defensemen who have four years of experience,” Cougars coach Jack Burke said. “Chris is a big hitter who can score goals and Danny likes to stay at home. Chris is the guy who will take a risk and sometimes make a mistake, and Danny is like the eraser. The other things about them is that they’re both good kids and both very mature.”

Small gun. Sophomore Kevin Neeld has been a nice surprise for West Chester Henderson coach Jason Smith this season. With the Warriors, who are 7-4-1 in the Inter-County Class AAA and 7-10-1 overall, looking for offense due to the loss of Matt Weindel, last year’s top scorer, to injury (fractured pelvis) in late November, Henderson was without a go-to scorer. Neeld took up the scoring responsibility. “Kevin has picked up the scoring slack when Matt was injured, that’s for sure. I saw this coming. Kevin had a lot of points before Matt got hurt.” Neeld leads the team in scoring with 18 goals and 10 assists in Inter-County games. With Weindel close to 100 percent healthy and working on the same line with Neeld, the Warriors have a good chance of qualifying for the Flyers Cup Class AAA playoffs.

By Joe Santoliquito
The Philadelphia Inquirer