WEST GOSHEN — It was a test for young, sophomore goaltender Matthew Hollingshead, but he was up for the challenge as he backstopped Malvern Prep to a 4-2 win over Downingtown East in a non-division game Monday night at Ice Line.
“I gave the young guy a start tonight because he earned it,” said Malvern Prep head coach Dave Dorman. “He’s been playing really well and her certainly made a statement tonight that he’s someone we’ll be able to rely on this year.”
The goaltender made 24 saves en route to the win, and it wasn’t all easy as Malvern (1-0) gave Downingtown East (0-2) six power-play opportunities in the game.
“We got into penalty trouble a little bit,” Dorman said. “We got caught being a little undisciplined and that’s something we’re going to have to clean up here if we’re going to compete at the end of the season here for a championship. That’s something, for sure, we’ll get a hold of. We allowed them to get back into the game, but our guys responded nicely to finish things out.”
At one point in the second period, Malvern Prep saw a parade of four players sent to the penalty box over a span of 11 minutes.
All or some of it could be attributed to it being Malvern Prep’s first game of the season.
“There was a lot of emotion, but ill-guided emotion,” Dorman said. “We could have done a much better job keeping our highs a little lower and picking up from our lows and being a little more even-keel. That emotional roller coaster is something we have to fix.”
Lucky for Malvern Prep, the defense and Hollingshead stood up to shut the door on Downingtown East’s numerous power plays.
“There were a little nerves at first, but I started settling in and got comfortable and I started making saves,” Hollingshead said. “My defense was there for me, too.”
And they were frustrating Downingtown East every chance they could by blocking shots and tying up the lanes with sticks.
Despite the man advantages, Downingtown East was only able to convert on one of its six opportunities, courtesy of sophomore forward Collin Harple.
But for as good as the defense was in the game, Malvern Prep’s offense was just as good, throwing 31 shots at sophomore goaltender Jeff Cummings.
Three of those shots beat the goaltender, two of those from junior forward Joey Abel, who completed a hat trick on an empty-net goal with 39 seconds left in the game.
“What can you say about the kid?” Dorman said in reference to Abel. “He’s such a phenomenal talent. If he stays committed to playing the game the right way, stop and start hockey, the sky’s the limit for him.”
Though the game slipped away from Malvern a bit in the third, the Friars are happy to come away with a win over a tough opponent to open their season.
“It was a lot of fun,” Hollingshead said. “It’s always great getting back out there for the first time this season … It was a lot of fun, especially when you’re playing a good team. It’s a nice battle and good to come out with the win.”