March 15, 2004


Abington ice hockey coach Earl Saurman and his team would like to prove a point when the Flyers Cup Class AA playoffs open. For the first time, the Ghosts are the No. 1 AA seed; defending Class A champion Radnor and Class AAA winner Malvern Prep both return as top seeds in their respective tournaments. Abington opens against Bishop Shanahan tomorrow night at 8:30 at the Face-Off Circle in Warminster. The point Saurman and the Ghosts want to make is that a public school team can be just as good as a non-public school. “We’re fighting for the respect of the public school teams, against the open-enrollment schools,” Saurman said. “We don’t have the ability to draw players in a program and constantly have to go against the teams that can recruit kids. “We deal with what we have, and that’s not meant to take anything away from those private school teams. This tournament is an area where these kids can prove something. It’s important for my kids to compete against those kids from neighboring schools.”The Class AA tournament runs through March 25, when the championship game is scheduled for the Face-Off Circle at 7:30. The Ghosts have reached the Flyers Cup Class AA semifinals in two of the last three years, and have won the Scholastic High School Hockey League title three of the last five years. “I think we’re pretty comfortable with the No. 1 spot,” Saurman said. “We’re a little disappointed we weren’t selected for the Class AAA, and prove we can play with the better teams. But we’re honored to be the No. 1 seed at AA and, hopefully, we can fulfill those expectations.” The Ghosts have never won a Flyers Cup title. Abington is a senior-dominated team; eight are major contributors. The Ghosts are led offensively by seniors Eric Tufman (37 goals, 39 assists), Justin Schorr (46 goals, 35 assists), and Ben Berg (12 goals, 30 assists). The defense is anchored by junior Ian Cooley and the goaltending of senior Dominick Serratore and junior Kyle Santee. “They’re ready and we’re hungry,” Saurman said. “This program has only been around for five years, and we’ve been successful. “Certainly a Flyers Cup victory would be an incredible boost for us. The core group of this team went 0-17 in their first year together in middle school. Each year they’ve progressed.”

Class AAA. Malvern Prep is shooting for its fourth straight Class AAA title. The top-seeded Friars, who have a first-round bye, will open Thursday night at Ice Line at 7 against the winner of the game pitting Eastern (N.J.) and Archbishop Ryan. The championship will take place March 29 at the Wachovia Spectrum at 7 p.m. Malvern Prep enters the tournament with a 16-game winning streak. The last time the Friars lost was Dec. 31, against St. Mary’s of Long Island, N.Y. “We’re playing pretty well, just practicing and playing loose,” said Malvern’s Chris Campanale, the Friars’ top scorer. “Our biggest concern is if we take some team too lightly. But I don’t think that will happen, because we have too many veteran guys on this team. “Look at this year’s team, we only have one freshman, and the rest of the team is primarily juniors and seniors who have Flyers Cup experience. We’re pretty confident. We just can’t be too overconfident.” La Salle is the No. 2 seed. The Explorers could be Malvern Prep’s biggest threat. “We have to get to the finals first, and we have to get by some pretty teams out there to do it,” La Salle coach Wally Muelhbronner said. “My big thing is we have to play better than we have been playing. “By all rights, we’re lucky to be the No. 2 seed. We have to prove ourselves and take these games one at a time. We’re not even looking at Malvern now.”

Class A. Radnor, the defending state champion and two-time Flyers Cup Class A champ, will open defense of its title against Cheltenham at Ice Line in West Chester tonight at 7:30. The championship is scheduled for the Skatium in Haverford on March 24 at 8:45 p.m. The team that could challenge the Red Raiders is Central League rival Springfield (Delco), which is the No. 2 seed.

by Joe Santoliquito
The Philadelphia Inquirer