WEST GOSHEN — Although scoring the game-winning goal with less than four minutes remaining in regulation to send your team to the championship game is pretty special, the fact that it was also West Chester Rustin head coach Nick Russo’s 300th win made it even more so.
“We have a great bunch of kids in (the locker room),” Russo said. “I was given the white gamesheet and the game puck, so that’s pretty cool. It has been a long 30 years.”
Russo and his second-seeded Golden Knights pulled off a 3-2 win over Unionville after watching their 2-0 lead evaporate in the second period in the Flyers Cup A semifinals Wednesday night.
It was the second game in a row that Unionville, the third seed in the tournament, fought back from a two-goal deficit after doing it twice Monday night against Crestwood.
“It was pretty nerve-wracking, to be honest,” said Rustin forward Tommy Sloan. “It was obviously a scary moment because we were up 2-0 and they score a couple and it just brings your confidence down.”
After the ice cut during the second intermission, Unionville, which only had 11 shots to that point in the game, compared to Rustin’s 28, came out determined to win the game.
“We got the breaks in the third period and didn’t take advantage of it,” said head coach Nicholas Basilio. “We had two power plays that we didn’t score on. Kudos to (Rustin) on their penalty kill and their goalie.”
Unionville out-shot Rustin 12-5 in the final period, but were unable to beat Jason Grande.
With the minutes quickly ticking down to an overtime, Brett Christie stripped the puck away from a Unionville player and skated in on a 2-on-1 with Sloan and sent the perfect pass over to the junior to bury for the eventual game-winner with 3:26 left.
“It feels amazing,” Sloan said. “I knew it was a 2-on-1 and everyone knows Brett is a pretty magical player, so I knew he was going to do something. I didn’t know if he was going to shoot or pass, but I knew he was going to make the right decision and he made the right one tonight.”
Rustin, who is the defending Flyers Cup and State champion for the A bracket, will face fourth-seeded Springfield on Friday for this year’s Flyers Cup championship.
It’s the same team Rustin has faced for the title two years ago as well.
“We have played them twice for the title,” Russo said. “(Both times) were 4-1. If you ask me for a prediction, I’d be happy with 1-0.”
For Rustin, it’s just another chance to add to its ever-growing collection of championships after winning the state title the last two seasons, among other accomplishments over the years.
“These kids were raised in an atmosphere like that,” Russo said. “It’s not new to them. I’m just really glad the Flyers Cup has the opportunity to stay in West Chester.”