STATE COLLEGE — The seniors on the La Salle hockey team finally got redemption for their lost championships.
This time, however, La Salle didn’t just win that coveted state title, but did it in a dominating fashion with a 7-1 rout of Cathedral Prep on Saturday at Pegula Ice Arena.
“Five-on-five, we played great,” said head coach Wally Muehlbronner. “We were in the penalty box a little bit, but that has kind of been the case this year. We did well on the penalty kill and (Harrison) Feeney was strong in net. We scored some pretty opportunistic goals, so it was a great team win. I’m really proud of the boys and the way they finished the season off.”
Though a championship win is exciting to everyone on a team, the seniors really felt the sweetness because it was their final year and that they had the opportunity to win it after the losses the previous years.
“It’s a great feeling, especially being a senior and losing it my sophomore year,” said forward Jeffrey Gratz. “It’s a great way to end my career. It definitely feels like a redemption. I wanted this more than anything.”
The one staple all season long for La Salle has been Feeney in net.
The senior was called upon many times during the regular season to win his team games when the skaters in front of him struggled to put pucks in the net.
“We’ve been a low-scoring team all year long,” Muehlbronner said. “We won a lot of 2-1 games and Harrison has won them for us, really, in goal. When we hit the Flyers Cup, we started finding the net. Thank God we did.”
Junior Joseph Mancuso opened the scoring for his team, though Cathedral Prep did tie it up a few minutes later.
“It felt great getting that goal,” he said. “It got the boys going and the momentum on our side after the goal.”
Even with things tied, La Salle chipped a couple more goals in to help out their goaltender.
For Feeney, it was a more comforting game seeing his team go up by so many goals, especially heading into the third period with La Salle up 4-1.
“It was definitely nice to have a little bit of a cushion and just feel comfortable in net and not have to worry about if I give one up, that we’d be tied,” he said.
The goals continued to come for the Explorers, adding three more in the third from Henry Kaechelin and Tyler Pohlig to win the championship.
“From the beginning of the season, we weren’t really counted on as the favorite, especially after last season,” Gratz said. “Just to work our way up to this point has been a great experience.”
The story of La Salle is really about the team coming together at just the right time. It’s the reason why the saying goes that the playoffs are a whole, new season.
“We really grew as a team and peaked at the right time,” Muehlbronner said. “We got very strong toward the end of the season and the guys came together. I’m really happy for the six seniors we’re graduating.”