WEST GOSHEN — He may clear the crossbar by only a few inches, but what Malvern Prep goaltender Matthew Hollingshead lacks in height, he more than makes up for in skill.
And he proved just that in his 13-save shutout performance Friday night in a 2-0 non-conference win over West Chester Rustin at Ice Line.
“He’s probably 5-6, but plays like he’s 6-4,” said Malvern head coach Dave Dorman. “He’s a type of kid that relishes in the moment. He’s like a basketball player that wants the ball in the last two seconds when the game is on the line. He really rises to the occasion and has ice running through his veins. The kid is just phenomenal.”
He needed to be against Rustin (2-2-1 overall) as his team took a few too many penalties once again in the game, remnant to their first game of the season when they took eight penalties.
Malvern (3-0 overall) took six penalties, which may be less than before, but still inexcusable to Dorman.
“It’s a little disappointing after coming out of a tough game the other night and playing extremely disciplined hockey without it coming at the expense of our intensity and aggression,” he said. “We had a lot of penalty trouble that cost us some zone time and other scoring chances. I’m a little disappointed they slipped back into that play.”
The players also knew they put themselves in a disadvantage against a tough team.
“We have to play more disciplined coming up, but I think we came together,” said senior defenseman Michael Shrader. “We were kind of low on energy to start, but as the game progressed, we got more comfortable. We pulled it out in the end and that’s all that matters.”
Luckily for the Friars, Hollingshead was at the top of his game, along with solid play on the back end from the defense and the penalty kill.
“One of the things we did talk about as a staff is that the penalty kill was sensational,” Dorman said. “Not just the penalty kill, but the defensemen played a really good game and stepped up when we didn’t feel we were getting as much sustained pressure and when our shifts were a little too long with the forwards. The defensemen were really a staple back there and did a fantastic job.”
Their play is what led to the game’s first goal as the defense blocked a shot from junior forward Brett Christie on the power play and a couple minutes later, senior Tyler Belle backhanded the puck over goaltender Jason Grande early in the second period.
Junior forward Joey Abel followed up with his fourth goal of the season on a misplay by Rustin when defenseman Matthew Widdis tried to glove the puck, but it bounced off and behind him, allowed Abel to swoop in behind and score.
Those two goals were all Malvern needed as the defense and Hollingshead took care of the rest, frustrating the defending State Champs and handed them their second loss on the season.
“Beating any team is going to bring satisfaction to us, but we just have to look forward to the next game,” Shrader said. “We can’t get too hyped up on this win.”
For as good as a 3-0 start on the season is for Malvern, Dorman knows he can get a lot more out of his team and could very well make them the most dangerous in the Prep conference, if not the EPIHA.
“We’re just scraping the surface with this group and that’s the exciting thing,” he said. “We believe we have a high ceiling with this group and it’s going to be a matter of us reaching that ceiling.”