Ice Hockey: Great Valley’s best season comes to end

Great Valley goaltender Evan Christian was a steady force in net all season long, including in the Flyers Cup, where he made 40 saves against Springfield in a 5-1 loss Wednesday night. (Candice Monhollan)

Great Valley goaltender Evan Christian was a steady force in net all season long, including in the Flyers Cup, where he made 40 saves against Springfield in a 5-1 loss Wednesday night. (Candice Monhollan)

ASTON — It may not have been the outcome Great Valley was looking for in the Flyers Cup tournament, but the players and coaches can look back and be happy with the way the season went.

Not only did Great Valley post the best record in team history, but it also made the Ches-Mont playoffs for the first time as well.

“I’m really happy with the way it ended,” said Great Valley goaltender Evan Christian. “It’s always good to go down with the most memorable season I’ve had. It feels good, but I’m going to miss playing.”

The senior goaltender was a staple in net for the Patriots all season long, helping his team accomplish everything it did by playing in all but one game.

His strong play, coupled with a great effort in front of him, almost pulled off the biggest upset thus far the season when Great Valley took West Chester Rustin to overtime in the first round of the Ches-Mont playoffs.

“We fell a little short of some of our goals,” said head coach Ladd Clark. “We wish we had had a better record, even though this was the best record Great Valley has ever had. We wish we had done a little better — we felt like we could have done a little better.

“At the same time, they had a solid season and made the Ches-Mont playoffs. We played Rustin really hard.”

Unfortunately for Great Valley, it ran into a tough opponent in No. 4-ranked Springfield (Delco) in the first round of the Flyers Cup A tournament and lost 5-1 Wednesday night at IceWorks.

“(Springfield) is a solid team and do everything right,” Clark said. “They get the pucks deep, find the late guys, are aggressive and move the puck well.”

It didn’t help matters that Great Valley also came in shorthanded with three of its top players out of the lineup due to an injury and questionable suspensions.

Penalties against the Patriots, who were whistled seven times, also stacked the odds against the No. 13 seed, including two 5-on-3s for varying lengths.

“We’ve had a long week with conversations about penalties,” Clark said. “It seems hard on us. I just saw a lot of weak stuff called against us that were, to be honest, dives.”

Despite all the odds, Great Valley continued to push as much as they could, but ultimately fell to the higher ranked team.

“I feel like we accomplished everything we could have tonight,” Christian said. “Although it didn’t go our way, I feel like we played our heart out until the finish.”

Through all the ups and downs of the season, including getting off to a 3-0 start, Great Valley was happy with the 8-8-2 overall record it posted — up a significant amount from 5-12-1 just the year before.

“Gentle Valley has been the name for us for several years and I feel like this year, we finally put our name out as Great Valley,” Christian said.

The 2014-15 season was the step in the right direction for Great Valley and Clark believes it will be a perfect building block for them going into next year.

“We are never going to give up,” he said. “We want to win this game (tonight) and we want to win the next three. That’s what we’re trying to do.”

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