NORTH PHILADELPHIA — All good things must come to an end, and for 12 seniors on Malvern Prep’s roster, their time with the Friars on the ice is now over.
Amid the heads hanging low over a 7-2 loss at the hands of Holy Ghost Prep in the Flyers Cup AAA Semifinals Wednesday night, the outgoing seniors could still be proud of their season, despite falling just short of their goal.
“The guys in (the locker room), I’ve played with some of them since middle school and we’re really close now,” said Malvern senior Tyler Belle. “It’s kind of weird now that it’s over. I can’t be too sad. The boys in there are some of my best friends and I’m happy I got to spend all these years with them.”
After routing Roman Catholic two nights before, Malvern Prep ran into trouble in the form of Holy Ghost’s goaltender Alexander Taylor, who stopped 26 of Malvern’s 28 shots.
In fact, he didn’t let anything in until the third period when senior Michael Churchvara beat him on the power play.
“Their goalie did a great job tonight,” said Malvern head coach Dave Dorman. “We had 28 shots and he let in just two. We just couldn’t seem to solve him.”
Holy Ghost’s special teams also derailed Malvern early on after it scored on both power plays during a 5-on-3 just under halfway through the first period and tacked on a short-handed one in the final two minutes.
“Early on when they had a couple power-play chances and power-play goals,” Dorman said. “The surely hurt us early on, but I don’t think it was the determining factor in the game.”
Despite the hole it put Malvern into, the team never stopped trying to fight its way back.
“Our guys did a great job responding and keeping the energy up and sticking together,” Dorman said. “They did such a great job playing through the adversity and continuing to work hard.”
Senior Troy Stendland agreed with his coach.
“It was a tough start and definitely hard to come back from,” he said. “Throughout the game, even down five goals, we kept going and kept pushing.”
Dorman attributed the never-say-die attitude to his senior leadership on the team.
“It’s reflective of the senior leadership that we have,” he said. “In all honesty, it could have gone either way (tonight). We out-shot them and our guys didn’t give up and that’s the biggest thing. In the face of adversity, they absolutely refused to back down and give up. For that, I’m just so proud of the kids.
“The seniors did a great job helping us start a culture and build a culture that we’re going to expect from the underclassmen and the group coming in.”
Dorman couldn’t be happier with the season, especially since it was his first with the team.
“I’m so blessed to come in to this program in a time when there are 12 seniors,” he said. “It made our job transitioning as a staff that much easier. They bought in from day one and followed through and continued the entire season.”
Before the game, the coaches asked for just one thing from their players before stepping out on the ice for what ended up as their last game of the season.
“The one thing we asked them is to make sure that, regardless of the outcome, that they had no regrets at the end of the game. I think that every single kid can walk out of that locker room with their head held high and not have any regrets.”
It looks like Dorman got his wish.
“It was one of the best seasons of my life,” Stendland said. “With my senior brothers and everyone in general on this team, they just pulled it together this year. It’s tough we didn’t get the ending that we wanted, but I love these guys and couldn’t have asked for a better season.”