Ridley (1-2 overall) capitalized on two West (2-1 overall) turnovers in the third period to retake the lead and seal its first win on the season.
“It’s extremely tough because you don’t see these guys,” said Downingtown West head coach Ryan Smith. “This is my third year at Downingtown and we’ve never played Ridley. I know their coach a little bit and I know his tendencies, so we had a little but to go off of, but we didn’t have a lot to base on.”
Even before the turnovers in the final frame, a couple of penalties hurt the Whippets in the first.
Senior forward Angelo DeMucci scored just 1:13 into the game, while Dante Giannantonio pounced on a rebound during a power play to put the Raiders up 2-0.
But senior goaltender John Kelly kept battling for the Whippets and kept them in the game with big saves.
“John played awesome,” Smith said. “At the end of the day, it’s tough on him because he’s used to playing on a really good club team, so he gets a lot of shots here.”
Things took a turn in the second as the Whippets fought back as they took advantage of power plays, with the first goal coming off a shot from the point from sophomore forward Joshua Rikess.
“That second period is what West hockey is all about,” said West senior forward Chris Fabry. “We were all over them, keeping pucks in the zone and getting pucks on net.”
D-West also had the help of freshman Zach Hanaway, who has quickly become a standout player in the league with a hat trick in each of his first two games coming into Thursday.
“I’ve been watching him for a couple years and every year, he gets better and better,” Smith said. “Everybody has been saying we’re lucky to have him.
“(He) is quite the freshman. He does a lot out there for us and he’s going to be a big part of us for the next four years. We lean on him already.”
Though he didn’t notch another hat trick against Ridley, he did chip in a power-play goal to knot things up at 2-2 late in the second.
Unfortunately for the Whippets, the tie wouldn’t last as a cross-ice pass was picked off by DeMucci, who went in to score just under five minutes into the third.
Downingtown West had a chance to tie things with a power play with three minutes left in the game, but freshman Michael Giampapa stripped the puck away and sent a perfect pass over to defenseman Mathew Huhn, who sealed the game with the short-handed goal.
Despite suffering its first loss of the season, Smith is happy to see how his team continued to battle, even with a shortened bench.
“We were down two of our better players,” he said. “It’s just about getting the younger guys to play the game and play it the right way. We made a couple bad turnovers in the end, which cost us the game, but all-in-all, it was a good effort.
“They’re starting to play the game the right way and do the right things. It’s really nice to see as a coach.”