WEST GOSHEN — Though the West Chester Rustin boys hockey team may have come out with a big 5-1 win over West Chester Henderson, it wasn’t the prettiest of games Monday night at Ice Line.
All told, there were 17 penalties whistled in the game, 11 of which were on Rustin (8-1-1).
“Obviously we worked out our penalty kill today so we don’t have to do it in practice,” said head coach Nick Russo. “That’s the most I can remember. There was one other game I think in my third or fourth year where we actually got 14, but that has never happened.”
The rise in penalties in the game may be because there is some bad blood between the two rival teams as they have faced each other time and time again not only in the regular season, but also in the playoffs and Flyers Cup.
“We weren’t really disciplined tonight,” said forward Kyle Mullin. “Without a doubt, (they boil our blood). We have coach Russo and the other coaches on the bench trying to keep us focused.”
Although Russo thinks there may be a little more to the calls than just the bad blood.
“I also think referees look at the box scores like players do and they’re always looking for the same guys and it’s the same calls,” he said. “(Brett) Christie can go end to end and get mauled and nothing gets called or (Joel) Sheriko because he’s big and strong. It’s the nature of the beast.”
It’s nothing new to the Rustin team, which is sometimes very used to being whistled.
“We’ve been the most penalized team the last three years,” Russo said.
As of Rustin’s 10th game of the season, the team has been short-handed 50 times – the most of any boys varsity team in the Inter-County Scholastic Hockey League.
However, Rustin was able to overcome the penalties with a big second period, which saw the Golden Knights score four of their five goals against Henderson (5-5-1).
“We just tried to play well as a team,” Russo said. “We saw what the younger kids could do.”
The win moves Rustin to the top of the Ches-Mont, two points ahead of West Chester East heading into the holiday break in the season.
“The academic year is the most important because that’s the season itself, but in the calendar year, we’ve only lost two games in 2015, which is pretty good,” Russo said. “I think the most important thing is we have a lot of the younger kids some game time this first half of the season. We’ve played some really good teams.”
As Russo knows, though, the second half of the season is when things really get tough and his team isn’t look have any type of letdown.
“The usually perennials are going to be there in the long haul – we haven’t heard the last of Henderson, Downingtown East, and West Chester East,” he said. “Now is when it gets down and dirty. We really haven’t done a lot of X’s and O’s and things like that yet, but we’ll do that after Christmas.”