March 29, 2001

The goalie had a rough regular season, but he has carried his team to a state championship game.

Some athletes wilt under the spotlight; others blossom. Springfield goalie Joe Hayden is one of the latter, flourishing in the Flyers Cup playoffs for the Cougars. A year ago as a junior, the 5-foot-9, 190-pound Hayden had what was arguably a career season with a goals-against average of 1.75 as Springfield finished 17-1 in the regular season. As a senior, Hayden had a drop-off. His confidence wavered. He allowed some soft goals, and entering the Flyers Cup Class A playoffs, there was concern about Springfield’s goaltending. Those concerns have been allayed. During Springfield’s run toward its first Flyers Cup Class A title, Hayden started playing his best hockey at the most important time of the season. After making 19 saves in a Flyers Cup Class A championship victory over Conwell-Egan, 5-3, on Monday night at the Skatium in Havertown, Hayden was selected MVP of the game. The Cougars will face Pen- guins Cup champion Serra Catholic 10 a.m. Sunday at the Skatium. If Hayden continues to stay hot, the Cougars could take home their first-ever state championship. “It would be unfair to say Joe has played poorly this year, but he certainly hasn’t played the way he did last year, and I think that’s something Joe would tell you himself,” Springfield coach Jack Burke said. “His confidence was hurt. The kid knows how to play the game. He hasn’t played his best hockey until recently. It’s been a tough pull for him, and I had to show faith in Joe. I had to stick with him. One way or another, Joe was going to take us where we were going to go. He has.” Burke received some criticism for sticking with Hayden. Burke had a private talk with Hayden before the Flyers Cup playoffs, emphasizing that the goaltender gets more work. Hayden was too old to play club hockey this winter, so his ice time was cut from playing eight hours a week to roughly three hours. Hayden got two hours of work on March 21, the night before Spring- field played Radnor in the Flyers Cup Class A semifinals. Hayden steered away 27 shots and made a few spectacular saves in carrying the Cougars to a 2-1 victory. “Joe was the reason we played in the Flyers Cup championship,” Burke said. “The further you go in these things, goaltending means a lot. Your goaltender has to make big saves, and Joe has. If not for Hayden, we don’t beat Radnor. It’s the best game Joe’s played in two years. I couldn’t be any happier for the kid.”

Team chemistry. This may not be one of the strongest Malvern Prep teams in recent memory when it comes to top-flight talent, but this year’s Friars may have an edge over their predecessors in other ways. Specifically, in their unselfish play and sheer emotion. Some of those qualities came through in the Friars’ 8-2 domination of Archbishop Ryan in the Flyers Cup Class AAA championship at the First Union Spectrum on Tues- day night. Malvern outshot Ryan, 48-12. Junior Phil McKeon was named MVP of the tournament and made the all-Flyers Cup Class AAA tournament team, with Malvern teammates Mike McMullen,

Jerry Reitano, and Max Sorenson. Malvern will play Penguins Cup champion Bethel Park for the Class AAA state championship at 3 p.m. Sun- day at the Skatium in Havertown. It is a rematch of an earlier pairing, which Bethel won, 6-2, in the title game of the Airport-Henderson Tournament on Dec. 10. “We’ve had to play more as a team this year because we did have more talent on this team the last two years,” said McKeon, who had 14 points during the Flyers Cup playoffs, scoring five goals and handing out nine assists. “We had the fire this year. We’re playing with more heart and more emotion than we’ve had in the past. We used to think we’d win on talent alone, not hard work.” An irony of Malvern’s play during the playoffs is that the Friars have hardly broken a sweat. In victories over Manheim Township, Cardinal O’Hara, and Ryan. Malvern has outscored its opponents, 21-4. The Friars may be missing the star players of the past, but they have a much more balanced team, able to get scoring from three lines. Junior Jimmy Gehring, who scored twice against Ryan, said that Malvern’s second meeting with Bethel Park could be very different from the first time the two teams met. “Well, one thing is we’ll have our whole team, after having around 13, 14 players the first time we played Bethel,” Gehring said. “Bethel will see a different team. We went to that tournament as just a fun thing.”

A new look. High school hockey I could look different next season. The two main leagues, the Inter-County Scholastic Hockey League and Eastern League, could undergo major realignment. Greg Dugan, president of the Inter-County League, will meet with representatives of the 10 Central League teams tonight at Ice Works in Aston to determine the future of those schools and the separate league they are proposing to form next season. The new league would take away six teams from the Eastern League and four from the Inter-County. The Inter-County League also could undergo a slight realignment, splitting private schools and public schools into separate divisions. Archbishop Carroll, a Class AA powerhouse, and Bishop Shanahan could be moved to Class AAA, with teams such as Malvern Prep, West Chester East, and West Chester Henderson next season. “There could be a lot of shifting in the area next year, but the move from the private schools and public schools will be slower in our league,” Dugan said. “There is a chance teams like Carroll and Shanahan will be moved up. But the Central League move seems like a possibility. It’s been talked about for the last two or three years, and the push is coming from the schools in the Central League.” Dugan mapped out three scenarios for the Central League. One is an independent Central League, and the other two would have a Central Division attached to either the Eastern League or Inter-County League.

By Joe Santoliquito
The Philadelphia Inquirer