The Blue Demons ended up in a high-scoring shooting match with Penncrest, though they came out on top with a 9-6 decision.
“I wasn’t expecting a high-scoring game at all,” said head coach Kevin O’Dowd. “This is another team Kennett has never played and we really didn’t know what to expect.”
The only thing O’Dowd did know coming into the game was Penncrest’s Matthew Dougherty, the team’s leading scorer.
Although that’s not the reason Kennett is familiar with him.
“Dougherty is a cousin to one of the greatest Kennett players, Tommy Dougherty, and he plays like him,” O’Dowd said. “We knew we had to contain their best scorer and he had two goals and three assists tonight.”
Although Penncrest was able to score six goals, O’Dowd was pleased with his team’s defensive effort, especially after the previous two games where Kennett won 5-4 over Oxford and tied 4-4 with Interboro.
“We have not been playing a strong defensive game,” he said. “We’ve had two poor, defensive showings. We had a game last night where we really played poorly from a defensive standpoint. We really talked about that and focused on it for this game. We wanted them to back-check more to help our defense out because we have been giving up a lot of odd-man rushes. We were able to really shutdown a very good, offensive team. We did that because our forwards were back-checking and supporting the defense.”
Though the team stepped up defensively, its offensive side didn’t struggle in the process as the nine goals were the most Kennett has scored all season, topping a seven-goal night in January.
Leading the way for Kennett was junior Ryan Johnson, who had five goals and two assists.
“Ryan Johnson has been a stalwart player the whole season,” O’Dowd said. “We had him on a line tonight with Luke Borman, who hasn’t been able to make all the games because he’s on a travel team. It was nice to see the chemistry that Johnson has with Luke. They were really able to open up the ice. They were with our lady, Taylor Cullen, who had a very nice assist. It’s great to see (Johnson) continue to have his success.”
Edmonds continued to be at the top of his game as he has done all season long, playing every minute of every game for the Blue Demons.
“Our goalie stole this game tonight,” O’Dowd said. “Sean Edmonds has stolen at least five games for us this season. Tonight he faced 39 shots. He had a huge game last night and he was a difference in this game tonight.”
Now that Kennett’s regular season ended a couple days before the majority of the ICSHL teams finish, the Blue Demons have secured the second seed in the South Conference, setting up a first-round match against the third seed when the playoffs open on Monday.
Though the third seed is up for grabs as Sun Valley, Interboro and Oxford all have conference games Friday, if things end how they are now, Kennett will face Sun Valley in its first ICSHL postseason game in years.
“We split the season with Sun Valley,” O’Dowd said. “They’re a really good team and a well-coached team. They have some really strong forwards and it’s going to take a tremendous defensive effort to match Sun Valley.”
No matter who Kennett may end up facing come Monday, one thing is certain for Kennett: it will need all its lines to roll to make a run for the championship.
“Whichever way Ryan Johnson and (captain) Jack Dreisbach go is usually the way the team goes,” O’Dowd said. “We also go the way of our third line that we affectionately call the Rocket Line. (That line has) two kids that have never played hockey before this year. We need balance from all our lines and we got that tonight.”