This chronicle is a biographical construct from various archived personal newspaper interviews and personal accounts from Rich Slack’s career as head coach of the Bishop (Conwell) Egan Eagles Varsity Ice Hockey Team.

By Ross Porubski
Youth Hockey Info

The origin

Rich Slack is quite possibly the most polarizing head coach in the history of Egan ice hockey. Originally the head coach of the Truman Tigers from 1982 to 1988, Slack moved on to take over the head coaching responsibility at Bishop Egan in the summer of 1988. After Egan lost to Council Rock in the Flyers Cup final of 88, the existing head coach, Chuck Homoika, was replaced with Slack. Slack immediately went to work forming his staff and selected both Bob Liberatore, (former coach of the Bensalem Owls) and Drew Bowden to handle the assistant coaching duties. 

A New Era at Bishop Egan

The Slack era got off to a running start in the 1988-89 season with a league-best 15-0-2 record clinching first place in the LBCSHL. The Eagles played Father Judge in the Commissioners Cup and won the best of three series two games to none. Slack’s first regular season as head coach of the Bishop Egan Eagles ended with no losses and his first Commisioners Cup Championship. Egan beat Judge 5-4 in the first game and 8-6 in the second to bring home the hardware. Egan moved on to face a buzz-saw in William Tennent in the first round of the Flyers Cup Tournament and lost 7-2 ending their undefeated run. 

In 1990 the Eagles played a see-saw season trading first and second place with Father Judge before finally losing out on the best overall record to Judge with a second-place finish. Bishop Egan returned to the Commissioners Cup finals against Father Judge and lost the best of three series two games to one. The Eagles lost the first game 5-3, won the second game 6-2, and got blown out in the third 6-1. While Egan didn’t make the Flyers Cup Tournament they did get offered a runoff game against Downingtown to play for the Class A Pennsylvania Cup. Egan won the wild-card game and went on to play Ringold Township in the Pennsylvania Cup, where they won their first state title 5-1. Joe Vecchione was MVP with 2 goals and an assist.

1989-90 Bishop Egan Eagles

Every August before the start of the new school year, the coaching staff held a pre-season camp at Princeton University Baker Arena. The camp typically lasted one week. The objective of the camp was to see where the boys were with their skill level and to identify who would be playing JV, and who would be making the Varsity squad. The coaching staff would make their selections on the final day of camp. As one would expect there were always some unhappy players and in some cases, parents, but this is how selecting a team works and there’s no easy anything about it. Coach Slack had a saying, “Put me in a room with the parents and I’ll pick my team.” Slack was ahead of his time, he often didn’t run his practices in what one would consider a conventional fashion. The coaching staff incorporated soccer balls and tennis balls. Though some looked at these practices as unconventional, the reason to introduce them was to increase eye-hand coordination and speed. The coaching staff knew what they were doing and what others thought about their techniques didn’t really matter to them. Additionally, to strengthen the team’s level of play, the coaching staff arranged designated in-season tournaments, and cross-league games with teams from other leagues. The coach’s philosophy was, “You don’t make your team better unless they play the best.”

In 1991 a rebuild was under way. New students were coming in and an entirely new roster was being formed. The Eagles finished in third place and lost in the playoffs to Pennsbury. In 1992 the Eagles came in fourth with a 10-2-1 record and no Flyers Cup appearance. The 1993 team finished first with the league’s best record at 15-5-0 and wound up losing to Archbishop Ryan in the Commissioners Cup finals. Egan and Ryan were representatives for the LBCSHL in the Flyers Cup Tournament, and both lost in the first round.

A great run!

In 1994 Egan finished third in the LBCSHL with an 11-9-1 record, good for third place. However, the Eagles surprised second-place Pennsbury and wound up in the Commissioners Cup against Father Judge. Judge again won the best of three series two games to none, both lopsided wins but the Eagles were learning and getting better along the way. As the runner-up to Judge in the LBCSHL Final, the Eagles were placed in the Class AA Flyers Cup tournament where they beat the Upper Darby Royals in OT in what was probably the most bizarre win ever to capture a Class AA title. At four minutes, and twenty seconds of overtime, Conwell-Egan sent the puck down the ice to get a line change. Royals goalie, Larnerd, gathered the puck at the left face-off circle. He turned to pass the puck to defenseman Mike Avon, who was waiting behind the net, but instead shot it directly into his own goal. An awkward silence followed. Larnerd fell to his knees. The Royals looked on stunned. Conwell-Egan didn’t even know it had won the game until the referees signaled the goal. One by one, as the Eagles began their celebration down the ice and the Bishop Egan Eagles won their first-ever Flyers Cup Class AA title.

1994 Conwell-Egan Eagles Class AA Flyers Cup Champions
1994 Conwell-Egan Eagles Class AA Flyers Cup Champions

The Pennsylvania Cup State Championship wouldn’t be so kind as Egan was pummeled 6-1 by Greensburg CC.

The 1995 squad finished the season with a 19-7-2 record and again succumbed to those feisty Father Judge Crusaders in the Commissioners Cup finals. But they again showed their resilience with a return to the Class AA Flyers Cup Tournament. The Eagles beat the SHSHL Central Bucks East Blazers in the semi-finals by a score of 6-3 before moving on to the final against the Malvern Prep Friars from the EHSHL. Egan boys high school, now combined with the girl’s Catholic school, with the updated name, “Conwell-Egan” destroyed the Friars by a score of 9-1. The Eagles advanced to the Pennsylvania Cup final where they faced off against the west’s North Catholic, and came into the game with a new outlook.

1995 Conwell-Egan Eagles Class AA Flyers Cup Champions
1995 Class AA Flyers Cup and Pennsylvania Cup champions

Learning from their mistakes the previous year, the Eagles went on to beat the Tigers by a score of 7-4, winning their first Class AA Pennsylvania State title, Slacks second state championship win as head coach.

This coaching group had the same mindset, respect your opponent, respect the game, play hard, and earn your role. Nothing about their philosophy represented hand-outs. If you wanted to play as an Eagle, you had to earn it, and with that, a level of discipline was also expected and required.

In the summer of 1995, assistant coach Bob Liberatore attended a coaching symposium in New York. Among other guests and speakers, Hall of Fame NHL head coach, Scotty Bowman, was in attendance. Liberatore took the opportunity to meet Bowman and during their discussions of x’s and o’s, Bowman brought up the strategy of incorporating the left wing lock, otherwise known as the trap. Liberatore returned from the meetings and presented this suggestion to try the strategy to Slack, in which the head coach was intrigued and chose to entertain the option. This sometimes controversial gameplay requires a complete buy-in from the players. Traditionally goal scorers are not fans but if the strategy is executed properly it’s almost impossible to defeat. There were detractors on the bench and in the stands, (parents) which was expected, but mainly the players jumped on board and the rest was history.

The next four years Conwell-Egan, along with its new gameplan went on to play in the Commissioners Cup Championship four times. The 19-2-0 second-place Eagles beat Ryan in the 1996 Commissioners Cup sweeping the Raiders with a score of 5-4 in game one, and 7-5 in game two. They went up against Eastern Regional Vikings in the Class AAA Flyers Cup preliminary round beating them 8-2. They faced off against the Council Rock Indians in the quarter-final and won 4-1, advancing to the semi-finals against Germantown Academy where they ran out of steam losing 3-1. In 1997 Egan went 19-3-1 and went back to the finals against the Archbishop Ryan Raiders in the Commissioners Cup but this time they lost two games to one in the best-of-three series. The Eagles won the first game 6-3. Ryan won game two 6-4, and Ryan won the decisive game three 5-4 in double overtime. In the Class AAA Flyers Cup preliminary round the Eagles faced Washington Twp. from New Jersey and won in convincing fashion 8-2. The quarter-final was probably a blemish on Slack’s scorecard that he’d like to forget. Egan played the Council Rock Indians and lost abysmally by a score of 11-1.

The 1998 season looked like it was going to be “the year” for the Eagles. They posted a 22-0-2 record, outscoring their opponents by an incredible 189 goals for, and 48 goals against. After defeating the Archbishop Ryan Raiders in the league semi-finals, the Eagles swept Bensalem 11-3 in game one, and 4-3 in an overtime thriller in game two to win the Commissioners Cup final. Rich Slacks’ squad seemed to have everything in place, the goaltending, the goal-scoring, and the defense to make a full-on Flyers Cup Tournament Class AAA assault. The Eagles headed into the first round of the Flyers Cup against the same team they had defeated in the preliminary round the year before, Washington Twp. But this time the Minutemen from New Jersey shocked everyone by beating the Eagles 4-3 thus eliminating them from the tournament.

Climbing to the peak and then the fall….

The 1999 campaign was about taking everything in stride, one step at a time. The objective was to win out but not get ahead of themselves. While most area teams had already turned their attention to the season-ending Flyers Cup Tournament, Conwell-Egan zeroed in on winning a second consecutive Lower Bucks County Hockey League Scholastic (LBCSHL) title. The 22-1-1 Eagles’ focus on their task was evident as they swept Father Judge, two games to none, in the league’s best-of-three championship series. They topped the Crusaders, 6-3, to wrap up their third Commissioners Cup crown in the last four years. Beating Judge had special significance for veteran coach Rich Slack because it wasn’t too long ago that the Crusaders had ruled the LBCSHL. “Yeah, they beat up on us pretty good there for a few years,” Slack said. “It was nice to get the better of them for a change. It makes it a little sweeter.” “I think it’s real important to the club to win the league championship,” Slack said. “We expect to win this league, consider it one of those things we need to do on a yearly basis. This is definitely a priority for us.” Conwell-Egan’s record in regular-season action over the last four years is an impressive 82-6-4. The Eagles went 22-0-2 last season, 19-3-1 in 1996-97, and 19-2 in 1995-96. With the league’s first-place trophy in tow along with the Commissioners Cup championship, Slack and his players geared themselves up for the rigors of the Flyers Cup. They were wary of a repeat of the previous season when they were stunned by Washington Township (N.J.), 4-3, in the opening round of the Class AAA tournament. The Eagles got a bye in the first round, and in second round play faced off against the Eastern Regional Vikings posting a convincing 7-3 win. Moving onto the semi-finals Egan went up against SHSHL powerhouse Germantown Academy where they ousted them with a commanding 7-2 victory. Conwell-Egan had made it to the Class AAA Flyers Cup championship game against the Malvern Prep Friars. The last time they had faced the Friars in Flyers Cup play was 1995 in Class AA action. Both teams played a hard-fought game which ended regulation in a 4-4 tie. It wasn’t until Michael Delfin scored the winning goal in the OT championship thriller that crowned the Conwell-Egan Eagles first-time Class AAA Flyers Cup Champions.

1999 CEC Eagles Flyers Cup Champions

Next up was the Pennsylvania Cup, against Western PA’s powerhouse, the Meadville Bulldogs. The Eagles once again played an extremely talented opponent which after three periods left the game undecided. Overtime again for this determined Eagle squad. This time there was another hero, Brian Tetley scored off of an offensive zone draw which he won by beating the Meadville centerman before tucking the puck behind their goalie for the stunning overtime win. The Eagles had finally done it, they won it all with grit and determination. This was coach Slack’s first Class AAA Flyers Cup win, and he now had a Class AAA Pennsylvania Cup championship resume which already included both Class A and Class AA championships as well.

1999 Pennsylvania Cup Champions

You’d think this would be a fairytale ending to a brilliant career that had no plans of being over. But that was not the case. Shortly thereafter the CEC hockey board met to discuss rumblings that had been brought to their attention by a small group of parents. As mentioned earlier in this piece, like all accomplished sports teams who have successful coaches which tend to do very well, there are always going to be unhappy players, and their family members, and here we are. We won’t get into the finer details but instead leave at this. A decision was made by the board to replace Rich Slack at the conclusion of the 1999 season. The club and the coaching staff parted ways.

Coach Slack

In the end, Rich Slack goes down as the best coach in the history of the program with a resume second to no one else before or after him.

88-89 – l5-0-2 – League best record – Won Commissioners Cup
89-90 – NO RECORD ON FILE – 2nd place in LBCSHL – Runner-up Commissioners Cup
90-91 – NO RECORD ON FILE – 3rd place in LBCSHL – Lost in playoffs
91-92 – 10-2-1 – 4th place in LBCSHL – Lost in playoffs
92-93 – 15-5-0 – league-best record – Runner-up Commissioners Cup
93-94 – 11-9-1 – 3rd place in LBCSHL – Runner-up Commissioners Cup
94-95 – 19-7-2 – 2nd place in LBCSHL – Runner-up Commissioners Cup
95-96 – 19-0-2 – 2nd place in LBCSHL – Won Commissioners Cup
96-97 – 19-3-1 – 2nd place in LBCSHL – Runner-up Commissioners Cup
97-98 – 22-0-2 – league-best record – Won Commissioners Cup
98-99 – 22-1-1 – league-best record – Won Commissioners Cup


4 – Time league-best record
4 – Time Commissioners Cup Champions
5 – Time Commissioners Cup Runner-up
9 – Time Commissioners Cup appearances in 11 seasons

We can only assume there were at least 30-40 additional regular season wins between 89-91, if those results are found, they will be added.

Regular season totals not including post-season, tournament, and non-league 152 Wins -27 Losses -12 Ties


1990 – Won Class A Pennsylvania Cup
1994 – Won Class AA Flyers Cup – Class AA Runner-up Pennsylvania Cup
1995 – Won Class AA Flyers Cup – Class AA Champion Pennsylvania Cup
1999 – Won Class AAA Flyers Cup – Class AAA Champion Pennsylvania Cup