WEST GOSHEN — It wasn’t just a battle between two rival West Chester schools, but also a fight to remain undefeated as West Chester East took on West Chester Rustin Wednesday night at Ice Line.
It was the team without a blemish on its record, however, which came out the victor as East (6-0-0) kept Rustin (4-1-1) off the board for a 3-0 win.
It was a big win over the defending state champion team, but nothing more, according to East coach Eric Wolf.
“We won’t have any statement wins in November,” he said. “Yes, it’s a rivalry and a big win probably more for the people in the stands than it was for us. Our guys know it’s November and we have bigger fish to fry.”
Right from the drop of the puck, it was clear the East players were ready to compete, out-shooting Rustin 18-4 in the first period alone.
The first was also run East ran up the scoreboard, putting three past goaltender Jason Grande in the period.
“We came in focused,” said East forward Christian Juliana. “You can’t think they’re going to win or we’re going to win. You have to go in expecting nothing and that’s really how we were tonight.”
Juliana, along with Eddie Russell and Chris Rodier, accounted for all three goals and the assists as well. Juliana himself had the last two goals.
“I felt real good,” Juliana said. “It’s probably one of the best games I’ve had this season.”
Despite no goals the remainder of the game, East kept control for the other 40 minutes as well, giving them a resounding victory over a tough opponent.
“When you beat them, yeah, you feel good about yourself,” Wolf said. “I told those guys to feel good for the next hour and move on. Enjoy the holiday and put it out of your mind because it gets tougher from here. Right now, Downingtown East is probably the toughest team I’ve seen.”
And D-East, who also is without a loss on the season, is East’s next opponent after the holiday break on Nov. 30.
“We’ll take (the win) and put it in the bank and then our challenge gets bigger and harder Monday night,” Wolf said, “We saw this week as a key week. We looked at our opponents of Unionville, Rustin and Downingtown East as probably the most difficult week we’ll have all year and to come out and get the first four points of that is good. If we get six points out of it, it’s really good.”
East has been in a similar situation just last year when the team went on an undefeated streak at the beginning of the season, winning eight straight after losing the first game.
Having players who have been through a streak such as that has proved to be helpful for East’s younger players.
“There’s no question having people who know how to win is important because we also have a younger group,” Wolf said. “The thing is there’s a group in there that had a lot of success right away last year that are now sophomores. Sometimes you have trouble fitting your head in the locker room with things like that when you’re feeling so good about yourself.
“Part of their job is to make sure (the younger players) stay on the ground and they’re able to realize this league was tough last year and it’s even tougher this year. You can’t come in thinking this is in the bank. The second you do that, I guarantee you’re putting one in the loss column.”
What has been most amazing about the run East is on is that they’ve been able to do it despite injuries plaguing the team.
But the Vikings haven’t let that slow them down at all so far this season.
“If you would have told me we wouldn’t have a loss with the way we have been banged up, I would said the expectation was a little high there,” Wolf said. “To come to Thanksgiving without a loss, I’m happy with it, but we’re in November. It is what it is. We’ll take it and be happy with it and if we can build ourselves some leads and points in the column, then great. Right now, the last time I checked, we’re all chasing Downingtown East as far as I’m concerned.”