Eddie Russell’s five goals lead W.C. East to win

West Chester East’s Eddie Russell, 18, scored five goals en route to a 7-0 win over Downingtown West in a make-up game Wednesday night. (Candice Monhollan)

West Chester East’s Eddie Russell, 18, scored five goals en route to a 7-0 win over Downingtown West in a make-up game Wednesday night. (Candice Monhollan)

WEST GOSHEN — On an evening when both West Chester East and Downingtown West’s teams were hit hard with an illness, the Vikings’ Eddie Russell came ready to play Wednesday night.

The junior accounted for five of his team’s seven goals and assisted on another in a 7-0 win.

“My phone was going crazy today,” said East head coach Eric Wolf. “I had eight guys that are sick. There’s something going through the rink right now and it’s affecting a ton of teams and it hit us today. My main concern was that we come through it healthy. I knew we weren’t healthy (as a whole), but the guys here were healthy. Eddie made it a little bit easier for us.”

It seemed as if Russell had the magic touch in the game, getting a natural hat trick eight minutes into the first period before tacking on two more goals in the second.

In fact, Russell’s last goal left people on both sides of the benches and the crowd speechless when his shot was stopped by goaltender Justin Kiefel’s pad, only to have the puck hit the boards, bounce over the net, hit Kiefel in the back and go in.

“I’ve never seen a goal like that,” Russell said. “Our whole team was sick today, so I had to play good.”

Teammate Kevin Cleary had the exact opposite happening for him as he found the pipe three times in the game.

“When things are rolling for you, that kind of stuff happens for you, but then you have the other end of the stick where Kevin Cleary hits each post and the crossbar and he’s just snake bitten and couldn’t get one,” Wolf said. “We wanted to give him one just to get it off (his back).”

The game was a make-up for the originally schedule match Jan. 25, which was postponed from the major snowstorm.

It was an important game for East to make sure it played as the Vikings try to continue to hold onto the top position in the Ches-Mont with West Chester Rustin and Downingtown East lurking just a couple points behind.

“This kind of came up quick,” Wolf said. “We all just talked and wanted to get this game out of the way instead of running into another weather problem and we’re bumping into the Ches-Mont playoffs and we don’t want to have a game hanging over our head that we would actually need. We practice back-to-back on Wednesdays, so we worked with the rink to combine the slots. That’s the only reason why we did it – just to get it out of the way.”

With just over two weeks remaining in the regular season, Wolf and his team don’t have any major concerns looming over them, though there is still just one issue the coach would like to see his team work on before the playoffs roll around.

Of course, the health of his players are always a concern as well.

“I still would like to see us close games out the right way,” Wolf said. “Going back to Rustin and Unionville, we didn’t necessarily close them out. I want to make sure we’re doing that. And No. 1, we need to get healthy. We have a nice, little break here, which is good. We don’t play again until the last Ches-Mont game, which is the Friday after President’s Day Weekend. We’re going to have some time off to get healthy and let everyone else deal with things.”

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