PHILADELPHIA — Try as hard as they might, the Bishop Shanahan boys ice hockey players couldn’t keep their season alive on Tuesday night.
Facing No. 7 Archbishop Ryan in a play-in game of the Flyers Cup AAA tournament, No. 10 Shanahan fell, 7-1.
Shanahan became a bit like the “little-team-that-wouldn’t-quit” during the regular season with just 14 skaters who were in and out of the lineup.
“They really wouldn’t give up,” said head coach Doug Kish. “It was tough.”
Typically, the Eagles could only muster two lines up front against teams filled to the max on the bench and that was without any injuries or illnesses to any of the players.
“They ran into a wall there about a third of the way into the season and had a hard time,” Kish said. “They came back tonight and fought. We were just injury-plagued and, today, suspension-plagued, but they came back and fought tonight, that’s for sure.”
Despite the limitations, the Eagles fought throughout the season, tying teams people would have said they had no business to steal a point from, finishing the season with a 3-11-4 record.
It was a good enough record to get Shanahan a selection into the Flyers Cup tournament.
“We didn’t have the season we had hoped for,” Kish said. “We started off pretty strong and I think that’s where the recognition came from, along with (Gera) Poddubnyi on the ice. He draws a crowd. He’s the best player I have ever been surrounded by.”
Poddubnyi, in his first and only season with Shanahan, scored 46 goals in just 18 games — good enough for second overall out of all varsity players in the ICSHL.
He was also the lone goal scorer for the Eagles on Tuesday when he broke Archbishop Ryan’s shutout 15 seconds into the third period.
Even though Shanahan was eliminated from the tournament, ending its season in the first game, the players were still pleased with accomplishing something they haven’t done in a couple of years — and even longer before that.
“We made (the Flyers Cup) my freshman year and that was the first time in something like 15 years,” said senior and captain PJ McAllister. “To get a bid and make it again this year was just incredible.”
The play-in game was lopsided in favor of Archbishop Ryan, but Shanahan never quit, trying to get as many shifts in the offensive end as it could while goaltender Alex DeGarmo made 43 saves on 50 shots.
Afterward, the team had its final postgame moments in the locker room.
“(The seniors) are in there hugging each other,” Kish said. “They knew it was going to be a tough season, but they gave it their all. I think they’re happy.”
Maybe it was the attitude or the smaller locker room that made the team so close with each other. Whatever it was, the seniors knew it was something special, even if they didn’t win a championship.
“I was really good friends with everyone last year, but this year, I’d have to say, was my favorite,” McAllister said. “I wouldn’t change the season or the team for anything in the world. They’re my best friends and my brothers. It stinks that we went out this way, but I wouldn’t change it.”