WEST GOSHEN — It was a nail-biter in the dying minutes of the game between Downingtown East and Council Rock South in the Flyers Cup AA quarterfinals on Friday night, though the Cougars held on for the 3-2 win.
Second-seeded D-East had a two-goal lead twice in the game, only to have the seventh seed come within one twice in the third period.
“I think club showed up in high school,” said head coach Dave Hendricks. “The kids got away from what they are supposed to be doing with us and started trying to do stuff that they think they can do and are allowed to do on their club teams. A whole bunch of other teams showed up today.”
The game didn’t start off that way as D-East controlled the tempo and the scoreboard with two goals from Justin Cohn and Harrison Layne and out-shot Council Rock South 11-4.
It was the second period, however, when the Cougars let things start to slip.
“In the first period, they stuck to their game plan and had very, very good success from it,” Hendricks said. “Then they lost their game and they lost their way. They had to will the rest of the game. They had to win it with effort instead of skill and teamwork.”
After Council Rock South scored its first goal just 41 seconds into the third period, defenseman-turned-forward Luca Pisani answered right back 22 seconds later with what would eventually be the game-winning goal.
“It was good,” Pisani said of his goal. “It was a team effort.”
However, Council Rock South came right back 17 seconds after Pisani’s goal and scored again, making it an interesting remaining 14 minutes in the third period and a heart-stopper in the final two minutes with D-East clinging to the one-goal lead.
“It’s always nervous, but you just have to push to the end and work your hardest,” Pisani said.
Luckily for D-East, it has had to use sheer will and determination to win games before during the regular season.
“I do give the team credit in terms that they have the absolute will to win,” Hendricks said. “They need to just be a little bit smarter and a little stronger. I think that piece will make them champions. After watching the faces afterwards, I think the kids know they got away with one (tonight) and they know they can’t get away with a second.”
But before the Cougars have the chance to defend their Flyers Cup AA title, they first have to get through Central Bucks West, the third seed, in the semifinals.
Though D-East doesn’t face CB West during the regular season, it isn’t a new opponent for the Cougars, who have faced them before in the tournament.
“We saw them last year,” Hendricks said. “We have a history of playing them back-and-forth back in 2010. We played them in the finals for the Flyers Cup. We know the way that they play.”
West Chester East 7, Penncrest 0
Though it may look like East dominated the entire game based off the score, things weren’t quite as pretty on the ice during the second period.
“It was just messy,” said head coach Eric Wolf. “I wasn’t happy with it and I let them know in between periods. Finally we just did what we were supposed to do. I would have liked to have been a little more comfortable a little sooner, but give them credit. They didn’t bail on anything.”
It was especially worrisome to Wolf to leave the opportunity for Penncrest to come back during the second down only three goals after what the team did in the first round when it stormed back from being down the same score in the third period to Plymouth Whitemarsh and went through five overtimes.
“It’s the Flyers Cup – one hop, something crazy happens and they can attest to that playing five OTs the other night,” Wolf said. “That’s just how it is. You don’t want to put yourself in a position where you leave the team a wounded animal laying around. They’re the most dangerous. I’m glad we did what we did in the third.”
Throughout the season, a concern for East has been its ability to close games out, something which couldn’t really be tested Friday night with the shutout.
Now, with the Vikings set to face Springfield in the A Semifinals, it becomes ever more important for East to take the lead and shut its opposition down for however much time is left in the game.
“We’re going to find our pretty quick Wednesday night against Springfield if we’re ready to close out games and ready to take games over,” Wolf said. “We’re going to have to learn very fast that we don’t want to mess around with a team like Springfield, especially with what they present up front.”
Other Flyers Cup action
Springfield 6, West Chester Henderson 5 (OT): It was a heartbreaker for fifth-seeded Henderson when it lost in overtime to Springfield. The sixth seed had a two-goal over the Warriors with five minutes left in regulation, but Henderson battled back with goals from Keith Reynolds and Brendan Bolon, the latter coming with 70 seconds left in the game to tie it up at 5. Springfield’s Andrew Astrino became the hero for his team when he scored the winner just over two minutes into overtime.